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Fresh Faces: HOW Conference Interviews

Written by in Profiles

Justin Schafer_HOW_White Party

The final interview in our new to the HOW Conference interview series, brings us to Justin Schafer. Justin talks about the common thread of inspiration helping him relax and enjoy the conference.

Name: Justin Shafer

Occupation: Sr. Graphic Designer

Location: Omaha, NE

What was your motivation for attending the HOW Conference?

Everyone needs a little creative jolt sometimes, a place to go to get an inspired mind meld. I looked at a few conferences earlier in the year but none had as many sessions and such a diverse range of speakers. Plus, I had heard from past attendees that the HOW Conference was by far one of the best conferences they’ve been to. So between the diversity of the sessions and speakers, and HOW’s track record on being a laidback, fun conference, it was an easy choice.

How did you manage first timer’s intimidation at HOW Conference?

Actually I didn’t find it intimidating at all. Everyone was relaxed and really easy to talk to. I think part of that was because we were all there to have fun and be inspired, so right of the bat everyone there had so much in common. Although there were a lot of people, which sometimes can be overwhelming, the only time I saw everyone in one room was in the opening and closing keynote. This made the majority of the conference feel smaller than it actually was.

What were your first thoughts as you walked through the doors of the Resource Center on Opening Night?

Wow! This room is too small for this many people! There seemed to be a couple bottlenecks in the crowd, of course they were mainly located by the bars. After the crowd trickled out of the Resource Center I was finally able to take a breath.  It was then that I went from being overwhelmed by people to being overwhelmed by paper samples. Of course Neenah’s being the best! (Great booth by the way)

What was your favorite session/speaker at the conference?

Von Glitschka’s “5 Alarm Concepts” really stuck with me. He offered practical advice and real-world examples when it comes to brainstorming. He had a great presentation that kept me engaged with emotion and humor. He also reinforced two things that I had been thinking about leading up to the HOW Conference. The first one being you pick up creative sparks from things in life, like the places you go, the people you meet or the things you see, not by reading the latest design magazine. It’s your experiences that make the difference when brainstorming. The last thing he brought up was how graphic designers of the future should realize there value lies not in the physical production of actual design but rather in their design thinking and process. Von said he hesitated on whether to bring the last point up or not, but I’m glad he did. As a young designer it makes me think about where my job is headed down the road.

I will most definitely be looking out for more interviews being released by Nate and Donovan at the Reflex Blue Show. They did a great job covering the event, plus they’re from Omaha!

Did you happen to buy any of the books from the HOW bookstore as a result of hearing a speaker?

I did buy a couple books for our design library at work but none from a speaker I saw. The bookstore was certainly loaded up with great material though.

Did you do anything in Denver outside of attending the conference?

I wish I would’ve had a chance to see more of the city. In hindsight, I would have liked to stay Thursday and Friday just to explore what Denver has to offer. Although informative, the amount of sessions there were in a short time period left me little time to see more than a restaurant or bar during lunch or dinner. Next year I’ll plan ahead and make it a goal to see the city I’m in, not just the convention center.

Did you meet anyone interesting or anyone you feel like you will keep in touch with after the conference?

Definitely, I met a lot of really cool people that I have a lot in common with. There are a couple of them I’ve already followed up with. To me, meeting new people and sharing stories is just as important as the actual sessions.

How do you plan to keep your inspiration alive after the HOW Conference? Or put to use the information that you learned.

I guess that’s the most important question. I’d like to think the HOW Conference offered me more than just some new tips and tricks, but rather a new perspective. Ultimately I’ll need to push myself beyond my comfort zone and experience new things, good or bad, to keep my inspiration going. Or at least until the next HOW Conference!