Do you ever get emails or invites to conferences or meetups but decide not to go? You think to yourself, I would rather spend your time working on a project. Or the idea of being out of your comfort zone is just too scary. I’ve been there before and may feel that hesitation not to do something again. However, doing the alternative and going to that event can be rewarding in many ways.
Going to DesignerCon 2017 recently is what got me thinking about this. I had heard of DesignerCon, DCON for short, before but I had never been. Surprisingly, I wasn’t reluctant to go when my wife suggested we go. I don’t remember my initial thoughts and I didn’t have any expectations. I was more excited to go when I learned that Mark Brickey the host of Adventures in Design would be there. However, we didn’t go to the panels so I didn’t have an opportunity to meet him. Most of all I was looking forward to having a good time seeing the hard work of the artists and hopefully making a meaningful connection with another artist at the show.
When we got there I was surprised by the large VIP line. With it being my first time, I didn’t realize how big the event was. Either way, I was excited to be around so many creative people. It made it easy to talk to people knowing they were an artist, designer, or admirer. It’s similar to the way a skateboarder can go to a skatepark and almost instantly become friends with another skater because they both skate.
There were so many different mediums and collections of art too. Everything from sculptures to prints, books, clothing, paintings, and videos of animation projects and video games. I felt so inspired and energized to work on my own projects and so happy to see other creative people sharing their work at the event. There were so many things my wife and I wanted to buy but limited ourselves to a couple of art books and prints. For the artists that we wanted to support but didn’t buy anything from them, we would chat with them a bit more and make sure to take a business card with their social media’s on it, follow them and message them later on that day.
One thing that surprised me was one of the artists I was talking to claimed to recognize me and asked if I had a booth at DCON too. It was unexpected and flattering. I’m thinking he thought I was someone else but I told him my name and he said he’s pretty sure he saw my work somewhere so it’s a possibility. He asked if I had any cards on me, however, I “conveniently” left my backpack which had my business cards in it in the car. Initially, I left my bag in the car because I didn’t want to carry it around all day, but as soon as we got in line I remember my water bottle and granola bars were in it...and my business cards. Subconsciously, I believe I also left it because I don’t like my business cards. I designed them to present or position me more as a graphic designer than an illustrator. I should have brought them though. Any business card is better than no business card. Going forward I am going bring them to any opportunity I may have to connect with another designer, artist or potential client. Eventually, I will be making new cards the present myself as an illustrator or cartoonist. I’m currently in the process of making an illustration portfolio. My goal is to create a full illustration portfolio before August 2018 and a micro-goal to go along with it is to start and complete a piece for my portfolio each week in addition to my upcoming webcomic that I will share more on in the near future.
I went off on a bit of a tangent. Getting back to the point, the artist I was talking to asked if I was tabling at DCON. Shortly after I thought about what he said, and how it would be a great experience to table at an event when I’m closer to feeling ready. I enjoy going to the events and admire the hard work I know the people put into their booths. At this point, I don’t think I’m ready but in a year or two, I will be closer. I’m getting more comfortable and confident in my illustration and visual storytelling skills every day. I just need to start sharing my work consistently. The same goes for anyone reading this that is in a similar position.
Overall, I would say going to DCON reminded me how valuable it is to get outside, go to events, and connect with people. You never know what could happen. You have the opportunity to make new friends, meet your heroes, and become inspired, recharged and encouraged. All of those are amazing things that could lead to new opportunities.
Until next time...
P.S. After writing this I realized that I mention meeting your heroes or people you admire, but I didn't mention who I met. Since I didn't write it into the post organically, here it is. I got to meet Stephen Silver and Stephen Holman at DCON. It was a cool experience, they were nice and encouraging people. Both of them happen to be artists behind cartoons that I enjoy watching, Kim Possible and Kablam/Life with Loopy respectively. I’m also in the process of taking Stephen Silver’s Fundamentals of Character Design Course on Schoolism.