Ever Upward!


New York's entry from the "50 and 50 - The State Mottos" Project (by Dan Cassaro)
Dan Cassaro’s entry from the “50 and 50 – The State Mottos” Project

A few weeks ago, this correspondent traveled to the fair city of Syracuse, New York for the annual Create Upstate design conference. The two-day event is hosted by various Upstate AIGA chapters with industry-leading sponsors (Adobe, Mohawk Paper, et. al.) and an impressive roster of guest speakers.

Diligent note taking during the presentations.
I took diligent notes during the presentations.

I actually won the tickets at the AIGA’s Cocktails with Creatives event at Superior Merchandise (an amazing design boutique and coffee shop in the heart of Troy).
The presenters touched on a range of issues we all face as creatives; staying inspired, balancing work and life, knowing when to fire a client, dealing with copycats, etc. Many of the speakers recounted their humble beginnings through old, embarrassing photos and admittedly bad high school art projects. While each presentation was nuanced, the common thread was clear: Although we come from varied backgrounds, we all share an enduring drive to create.

Becky Simpson teaches us how to embrace the awkward.
Becky Simpson teaches us how to embrace the awkward.

None of us are born with the talent of Picasso. We have to work hard to cultivate our creativity. No amount of inspiration can replace rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands (or mouse finger) dirty. The keynote speaker, Dan Cassaro of Young Jerks, reminded us that we’re all Commercial Artists—emphasis on “Commercial”. This is a business, after all, and we should consider ourselves lucky that we get to pursue creative endeavors. In our deadline-driven industry where budgets often trump vision, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important: we get to create for a living!
The conference was a welcomed refresher that allowed me to step back and gain some perspective. Speaking with other attendees it was clear that we all need the occasional reminder that our industry is a pretty unique one. I came back feeling reinvigorated and ready to take on the next challenge.
And I’ll definitely be back next year!