I hope everyone in the US had an amazing Thanksgiving full of the people and food they love most! With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday, I didn’t have a chance to share my wonderful experiences at this year’s Seek Conference at Northern Illinois University.

After attending last year’s event, I knew I had no choice but to check it out again this year. When I went last year, it was the first design-related conference I had ever attended, and it absolutely blew my mind (talks from Draplin and Sagmeister certainly helped). This year I had a whole new perspective, and I was able to take away so much more. Plus, I ran into my buddy Adam Trybula who I met at Hike Con which was a pleasant surprise! Throughout the talks and incredible workshops, I quickly jotted down notes in one of my many ever-present moleskins. Here are some key take-aways from the event:

  1. Be open.
  2. Every designer always thinks the other person has been assigned the better projects because the grass is always greener on the other side. Be open to all projects and experiences that come your way (no matter how seemingly dull they may appear) and infuse them with passion. Passion is what turns an okay project into one worth proudly including in your portfolio. Alisa Wolfson
  3. Don’t design stuff. Design experiences.
  4. This was a great piece of advice from Tanner Woodford, co-founder and executive director of the Chicago Design Museum. It’s so easy to get caught up in designing stuff, but at the end of the day, you want to create a memorable experience for the view. Be mindful of you audience and how they will interact with your work (whether it be print or digital), and you’ll knock your projects out of the park.
  5. Experience is everything.
  6. People will pay for it, people will tak about it, and good ones draw us together in meaningful ways. This idea is something that up in Bob Faust’s talk, and it’s something that has stuck with me since the conference. Far too often, I think designers forget that user experience is something that transcends everything, regardless of what the work we do is online or out in the world.
  7. “Maybe it sucks. Maybe you don’t like it. I don’t care, I had fun doing it.”
  8. Matteo Bologna is one hell of a presenter. He’s entertaining, goofy, and full of passion—what’s not to love? As he talked about how he came to be where he is today and showcased some of his work, he quickly added the quote above, “Maybe it sucks. Maybe you don’t like it. I don’t care, I had fun doing it.” It was a feeling that I think many of us had while still working on projects in school or stayed up late to chase our next big idea. It was a reminder that fun and passion really trump all.

I also had an incredible time in Brad Vetter’s letterpress workshop where we got to get down and dirty with some ink, wood type, and paper. It was so much fun, and it definitely served as a great reminder that I need to get up to the Hamilton Type Museum sometime for a workshop! Overall, it was a great time, and I can’t wait to see what projects come to life as a result of this event (hopefully more on that later!).