Creative South: Why you need to go next year!

Do you long to be part of something larger than yourself? If you are in the creative field (or even just interested in it), that something is Creative South. It is a design conference held in Columbus, Georgia that brings together some of the most talented people currently working in the design and creative community. Packed with workshops, live events, and talks, the conference spans three days and is just the right amount of time to get to know some great people, and to refuel your inspiration with new ideas.

Last week, I attended Creative South for the first time, and it was hands down the most incredible experience I have had in months. In this week's Newsletter I’ll explain why you need to make it out to Creative South next year. If you attended this year, you know what’s up, but I am still going to share a bit of my experience!

Meet your new family at Creative South
I traveled to this conference by myself, but by the end of it all, I was enjoying breakfast with a big group of my new friends! I recognized most of these guys from online, but getting to meet them in person was just so cool. Meeting new people and sharing the experience of Creative South was transformative on a mental and spiritual level. I left the conference with new techniques for creating art, and a fresh perspective on how other people in the creative field operate their businesses. But most importantly, I met incredible people, and left the conference with the sense of belonging to something larger than myself. Who doesn't love making friends?  Happy times!  From left to right we've got my new friend Jeffy Thomas (Cut Ink Studio), Myself, Daniel Palacios (Highpulp), Scott Biersack (YouBringFire), Adam Gonzalez (Adam Gonzalez Design + Typography), Dan Lee (DanDrawnWords), and last but not least Ian Barnard! What a pleasure it was too meet these dudes! (Photo credit to some dude who took our photo, and Ian Barnard for editing and posting online :) )

One of the mottos of Creative South is, “Come as friends and leave as family.”. On day one, I was greeted at registration by Diane Gibbs, who immediately introduced herself and welcomed me to the conference. It was a fun and comforting vibe from the very beginning! After introducing myself to Diane, every time we crossed paths during the conference, she called me by name, saying, “How’s it going Ray?”. These are the types of genuine interactions you will encounter. 

Everyone is there to have a good time and you will be surprised at how friendly everyone is. 

Creative South defies what you might expect from a conference. At least for me, before attending Creative South, my idea of a conference was not really a place for fun. I first associated a conference with networking for the sake of networking, and I imagined a bunch of people in suits and ties discussing various business matters. But, to paint a picture of how casual and fun this conference was, we drank mimosas during the first workshop I attended at 8am. 

While there was networking going on, almost all of the interactions I had with meeting people felt genuine and natural. 

So Many Opportunities for Learning and Growth
The first day of the conference was devoted to workshops. If you wanted to stay busy all day, you could enroll in up to 4 workshops in a row. They were relatively cheap ($150 each) considering the value each offers! In the past, I have spent almost $500 on a single workshop, so when I saw the prices so cheap, I signed up for three classes right away. Definitely worth the money for the experience and knowledge. 

One of the workshops I enrolled in was a t-shirt design and screen-printing workshop put on by Real Thread. We learned a bit about what what types of t-shirts are awesome, and then there was a t-shirt design competition that I tied for first place in! Since I won, I'll be receiving over 30 t-shirts with my design printed on it! We only had 30 minutes to design, so I decided to hand letter the word Hey!, because it's a short word and it's what I was saying all weekend while meeting new people! I'll have sizes from Small all the way up to XL, so let me know if you want a t-shirt! I'm still figuring out how I will be able to ship them out. If I sell them, I'll make sure that you guys get a great deal, and a personalized letter from myself. I love you all, and I really appreciate your support! Below is my design! Not sure how it will be applied to the t-shirt yet, but once I get the digital renders back, I'll let you know! 

The workshops were fun and valuable, but the Welcoming bridge party afterwards was the bomb! There was free food, drinks, and everyone was there having a good time meeting one another. Seeing in person all of the people you follow online is a surreal experience! Even though you are meeting for the first time, you might already feel like you know that person. It’s a beautiful thing to finally meet your idols in the flesh. And it’s also equally beautiful to connect with other like minded people that you do not already follow online. 

After a couple hours to get your food and drink on, there was a live event called InkWars! 8 artists were given broad nib paint markers, a 4’x8’ canvas, a theme, and an hour to fill the canvas. There was music, energy and suspense about what the artists were going to create. Lots of fun! Here are two of my favorite pieces!  ( I believe this is Andy Hunt on the left and Dylan Menges on the right)

Fifty-two artists fought head to head to design each letter of the alphabet during the live event held all day Friday called TypeFight. I was lucky enough to participate in this event and I was paired up against a really talented lettering artist. If you want to commit to something that will make you grow as an artist, sign yourself up for the Live TypeFight next year! I was hesitant participate because I knew it would be a challenge, but committing to fight in the boxing ring motivated me to focus and practice my lettering more deliberately. That's right! There was actually a boxing ring for us to design in while we had one hour to complete our letter! I think it’s a general rule, that once you commit 100% to something, you will start to take the steps necessary to accomplish whatever is at hand. Here's the letter I designed, I had to design an "F". 

The last two days of the conference were primarily focused on talks. Topics and approaches varied from speaker to speaker, but the main theme of each talk seemed to be of encouragement. There were stories of failure, struggle, and success, and by the end of the two days, if you were paying attention, there was no way you could leave the conference feeling unchanged or uninspired. 

Face Your Fears and Find Strength In Community
Since this was my first time and I wound up traveling alone, I have to admit that I did have some fears about attending the conference. As I deliberated buying my ticket, my anxious mind ran through scenarios of me just freezing up in conversation and embarrassing myself in front of new people. But all of those thoughts were over the top and irrational. I committed and bought my ticket, and turns out it was the best decision I have made in a long time! The truth is that we are all human, and we all get nervous from time to time. But after meeting a few people, my anxiety faded to the background of my mind, and I started to settle into the vibe of the conference. I found strength and confidence in my newly acquired sense of belonging I felt to this community of creative folks. If you are on the fence about attending a conference like this because you are afraid for whatever reason, I ask that you just commit and go for it. Creative South is meant to be fun and inspiring, and you can't go wrong with surrounding yourself with like-minded creative people!