This is a quick write up of some of the talks that occurred at Dribbble’s Hangtime in Seattle on May 15. The line up of speakers was great. I appreciated the diversity of backgrounds and specializations
Khoi Vinh: “What do we want design to be?”
I’ve looked up to Khoi for years, so I was psyched to learn he was the keynote speaker. His talk did not disappoint.
Here are some key bullet points:
- “Bad code” made us comfortable with technology. It democratized engineering. We all speak engineering now: gigabyte, reboot, bandwidth, offline, 2.0
- Designers are territorial:
- Calling spec work bad, insisting on certifications, elevating design thinking… these are all ways to keep design exclusive.
- We all like and are comfortable with the idea of “genius designer” because it protects us.
- The more exclusive design is, the more we can charge. There is an economic incentive to keeping design a mystery.
- The cost of being territorial can be high. When we keep design exclusive, we give up the ability for other people to root for us.
- Without language, there is no capacity to understand.
- Put your design in context, share the language, and help others understand.
- (Inferred: Help them help you.)
Khoi also gave this talk talk earlier in the year. You can read his write-up on his blog here. Find Khoi on Dribbble here.
Potato quality snapshot of Khoi speaking.
Dina Rodriguez: “Do more of what works”
- You’re only going to get hired for the work you are presenting!
- Get over the fear of failure. Failure is part of the design process. Get it out there.
- Done is better than perfect, because perfect does not exist.
- Get more focused, if you’re still excited about something a week later, go with it.
- Quantity isn’t always a bad thing, it can lead to quality: More practice, more posting.
- Share your process, the struggle. We’re all human and we’re all experiencing the same thing.
Dina’s personal studio Letter Shoppe, and her awesome podcast Women of Illustration.
Nathan Yoder: “Making a Name for Others”
Nathan’s talk was a series of lessons, and he’s a great story teller. I promise his talk was more cohesive than my haphazard bullet points here:
- Don’t settle for the general understanding of something. To get to a deeper, maintain the title of student.
- A general understanding leads to “deceivingly good” work. “Deceivingly good” is work that is nice on the surface. But when you examine that work, it is clear the creator lacks a functional understanding. (Nathan was referring to logo design, but I found this very applicable to product design.)
- If you skip the foundational understanding of design, and skip to the last step… means that you can replicate, but not create.
- Find your vision, it will help define your goals. Think about the times that you were happiest or most fulfilled.
- Fear of failure can lead to self-absorption. You may become obsessed with your own work: Do you blend in? Do you fit with the crowd?
Follow Nathan and his stunning illustrations on Dribbble.
Awesome insight on knowledge vs. understanding
Josh Brewer: Panel Discussion
- Abstract (source control) changes the conversation. The work is not “yours.” It’s not “your design.” It’s always “ours,” you are creating a solution together.
- (On design having a seat at the table:) “Having a seat at the table doesn’t do SHIT. It’s what you do with it, build relationships, build trust, be human.”
Find Josh’s on work Dribbble.
Invisible Creature: Narrow-Minded
Invisible Creature’s Dan and Ryan Clark also gave their talk as a series of lessons.
- Your work may only be as good as your ability to sell it.
- When you work with your clients, think about all your past work. You’re bringing that experience with you.
- Every time you head off the questions, the client will trust you more.
- Go out on a limb. Sometimes that does mean taking those chances, taking on risk or debt. Doing that can open doors.
- “Don’t let the pursuit of quality work overshadow your quality of life.”
The Invisible Creature website.
The Rest: Klare Frank, Claudio Guglieri, Aaron Draplin
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to focus during Klare’s talk because I was speaking just after her. (And nervously practicing.)
My view just before speaking
I also didn’t take many notes during Claudio Gluglieri’s or Aaron Draplin’s talks. But Claudio has given his talk elsewhere, which is great because I can link a video.
Some of Klare’s work on Dribbble here.
Claudio on Dribbble here.
Aaron Draplin’s studio website
Would I go again?
Got to hang with some great friends.
Yes! It was nice to be in a space that was welcoming of all types of design and all levels of experience. It was also a low-key event. Other design events I’ve attended have felt… pretentious and self-important. Hangtime did not. The Dribbble team did a nice job of making it a positive, open and welcoming environment. Kudos to Dribbble for putting on a fantastic 1-day conference.
(Rumor has it, Dribbble Hangtime 2019 will be in LA, hope to see you there!)