The Rocket Blog

The RocketFuel Team lists their top 10 favorite things about attending this year's Creative Works Conference. 

Our 10 Favorite Things at the Inaugural Memphis Creative Works Conference

Standdddddddd up! Get on your feet for your Rocketfuellllll's Creative Workssssssss Wrrrrrrapppp-uppppppppppp!

Okay we are definitely not as good at introductions as Voice of the Grizzlies Rick Trotter. And man, did he emcee some good speaker introductions this weekend.

That’s not all that we enjoyed at this past weekend’s first annual Creative Works Conference here in Memphis. Come to think about it, there was not much we didn’t enjoy! Here’s some of our favorite moments from the weekend:

1) The Swag

Let’s be real: attendees of Creative Works got some pretty awesome free stuff throughout the weekend. Stickers, field notes notebooks, and discounts galore! Oh and did we mention there was free water and coffee all weekend? Pretty sweet perks if you ask us.

Creative Works Conference
Jesse Bryan

2) Jesse Bryan

For Jesse, everything starts with belief. He thinks figuring out what you believe in and then standing up for those beliefs are very important. So important in fact that he named his company after it - The Belief Agency.

According to Jesse we get confidence, conviction and drive when we know what we believe. Furthermore, it’s just as important for you to guide your clients to find what they believe in as well. He guided us on his secrets for extracting this meaningful information from large brands and create an honest campaign and overall brand that engages the audience in a genuine way.

3) Dana Tanamachi

Let’s get this out of the way first- Dana Tanamachi has met Oprah. Check it out:

Dana Tanamachi

So yeah, obviously Dana is an extremely talented designer specializing in chalkboard illustrations and these designs have gotten her lots of attention over the years. However, the big takeaway we took from her talk was the power of anonymity. Ironic, huh?

Dana Tanamachi

There’s a lot of perks involved when no one knows your name. There’s not a spotlight to highlight your mistakes, nor is there the pressure to not make mistakes in the first place. Mistakes are a sign of experimentation and experimentation is  curiosity put to work, therefore mistakes are a pretty big necessity to hone in on your craft. Dana encouraged us to embrace the freedom that comes with being anonymous- making being so small never seem so big.

To see more of Dana's work, check out her website

4) Invisible Creature

Like the handful of other designer speakers at Creative Works, the brother duo at the helm of Invisible Creature got their start in design making awesome things for the music industry like record covers and posters. But unlike the other speakers, Don & Ryan Clark have been nominated for music packaging Grammy’s four times. FOUR TIMES. Now that is impressive.

Invisible Creature

When they aren’t designing album covers for the Foo Fighters (swoon), these two are busy creating illustrations for others on their impressive client list including Target, Nike, Hasbro, Google, LEGO and others. But don’t let all their accolades fool you, Don & Ryan are still down to earth designers who embraces the failures they’ve had just as much as the wins. The big take away we took from their talk was the notion of doing what you want until people want what you do. They developed their own personal style and let it evolve organically until it was a commodity.

Matt Lehman

5) Matt Lehman

Matt Lenman runs the Matt Lehman Studio, his one man design, illustration and art direction shop out of Nashville. Before that, he worked for MTV/CMT Networks. No big deal. 

Also, loves to say no. 

That was the whole theme of designer Matt Lehman’s talk. But don’t let that fool you- the word no has ever felt more inspirational. And empowering. You don’t have to say yes to every project that comes across your cursor- just because you’re busy does not mean you are advancing your career. You’ve got to learn to say yes to the right things and no to the things that are only going to hold you back.

5 Things to Say No to As a Creative

6) This Video by Joey Ellis

 So funny. So good. Thank you for this masterpiece Joey Ellis. And for all your masterpieces

7) Danielle Evans

Columbus, Ohio native Danielle Evans is just as wise as she is charming. She really hit on the thought that being vulnerable is not a curse but a gift you should embrace. Her talk was one of the rawest of the weekend- with her sharing her failures and embarrassments and how they shaped her into the creative mastermind she is today.

Not to mention her work is good enough to eat- literally. She is a food typographer after all.

Danielle Evans Humble Pie

To see more of Danielle's work, visit her website Marmalade Blue or her Food Typography tumblr

Sasha Barr Sub Pop

8) Sasha Barr

It’s always refreshing to hear from designers with roots in Memphis and Sasha Barr was no exception.

Being 1/3 of the art department at Sub Pop Records, arguably one of the coolest record labels in the country, is a pretty sweet gig if you ask us. But hearing him speak about how he burned out doing the stuff he thought he loved and learned to re-spark that passion by pursuing the things he actually wanted to do was the truly inspiring part of his talk. Work doesn’t have to equal life, and that’s something us creatives seem to forget sometimes.

You probably have seen his work around town over the years- he continues to take on Memphis based projects even though he’s been gone for years. Sometimes, that 901 magic is hard to get out of your system.

Rock for Love poster

9) Aaron Draplin

What can we say about Aaron Draplin? He completely ripped us apart just to make us feel whole again. The man is everything he is hyped up to me and even more. If his portfolio wasn’t impressive enough (he designed logos for the President!), his larger than life presence and humble demeanor makes him someone everyone in the room aspired to be more like.

Aaron Draplin

The biggest takeaway we got from his talk was his attitude of using your mouse finger for more than just your own projects. As a designer, you have the ability to literally change someones life. Not everything has to have a price tag, which is easy to forget in such a competitive industry. And sometimes, just the feeling that comes from doing something for someone else is enough to fuel you anyways.

10) Seeing creative people get emotional talking about the things they are passionate about.

Enough said. 

Thanks you Creative Works for the inspiring weekend! We'll see you next year. 

Creative Works Conference