Are you feeling a bit stagnant in your work and desperate to get around like minded creatives?
If so, then it’s time you attended a conference like Creative South.
Here in a few weeks, April 6-9 to be exact, hundreds of people will invade the tiny downtown Columbus, GA area.
When you arrive, there is a buzz in the atmosphere as you know you’re around the right people. Shit, the tagline is even “Come as Friends, Leave as Family,” and this couldn’t be truer.
In 2015, I attended Creative South for the first time it sparked a massive swing of momentum in my life.
There were several reasons I purchased the ticket because I:
All three of these were accomplished and Creative South has become an annual affair for me. I’ve built so many amazing relationships that I’m actually bringing my wife, Emily Russell, this year so she can see what the hype is about.
If you’re attending for the first time, this post is for you.
Here is a list of Do’s and Dont’s to ensure you experience Creative South like a champ in 2017.
The speakers Mike Jones and company bring in are the real deal. They’ve built or are building a name for themselves in their respected industries. Their focus is to provide you with something to act on when you leave the conference.
Each year I’ve made an effort to reach out to several speakers who inspired me. It led to great conversations over lunch, dinner, etc. and resulted in some great relationships.
Listening is great, but these speakers are dropping gold and you’re going to want to refer back to some of the bombs they dropped.
You can even take sketchnotes like Emily Carlton who I’ll plug in the workshop section. You can then share your notes on social media with the Creative South #CS17 and let people know what they are missing!
In 2015, I shared my sketchnotes with Jason Craig after his talk. This led to a screen printed coffee poster collab and he also became a great friend and a mentor to me.
He even hung out with me back stage last year to help me prep before my talk.
Thursday’s opening mixer party is absolutely ridiculous and sets the tone for the conference.
They shut down an entire bridge and deck it out for one epic party. There are food vendors, drinks, fireworks, great conversations and Ink Wars…
Ink Wars is held Thursday on the bridge. It’s a setup of about 5 artists who are equipped with only a small sketchbook, a large white canvas and a massive black sharpie to go to war with.
The artists have 1 hour to create something based off a random topic. These constraints unleash some pretty wild concepts that’ll blow your mind.
Alright, this one is new to me and its’s replacing the beloved Type Fight...RIP.
Adobe Creative Jam is an event series where creatives share a behind-the-scene peek into their processes and projects. Meanwhile, teams compete in a tournament that puts their creative skills to the test using Adobe Creative Cloud.
Be sure to check it out wherever it’s hosted. The vendor hall is my best guess.
Some of the best value comes from attending workshops which range from hand lettering, passive income, sketchnotes, etc.
Here’s a little shameless plug. This year I’m actually co-teaching a workshop with the homie Brian Manley called "Crafting Your Killer Talk." If you’re looking to get into public speaking, podcasting, vlogging or videos in general, then this workshop is for you.
Sharing your brilliant and strange ideas publicly can be difficult but our workshop will:
I remember watching people on stage my first year wishing I could grow a pair and do the same. The following year Mike Jones asked to speak and it was the most terrifying yet life changing experience.
This workshop is about getting you on this level too as you have something valuable to share and you can make an impact outside of your art as well.
You’ll find a ton of other booths sporting posters, t-shirts, pins, stickers, etc. You even will have the chance to screen print your own tee with Real Thread.
I have no doubt you’ll leave with plenty of swag to plaster in your office, on your sketchbooks, laptop, skateboard or pretty much anywhere.
If you want the full experience you gotta ditch your introverted tendencies. Being reserved and escaping to your hotel room will extinguish any chance of having any impactful conversations and epic relationships.
While I’m an extrovert, I still came here all by myself in 2015 and didn’t know anyone. My anxiety was through the roof like a new kid from a small town in a massive high school.
However, I forced myself to mingle and now my best friends who I talk to the most are the people I met here.
You’ll get back what you put into it!
When you arrive, it’s going to be like you’re around hundreds of familiar Instagram avatars. Start connecting names and faces beforehand through social media so you can jump right into a conversation when you meet in person.
Doing this will make getting out of your comfort zone and building relationships that much easier.
Again, the speakers are so down to earth so don’t be afraid to approach them. Oh ya, try not to gush about how great they are—it’s awkward so treat them like the normal people they are.
There is so much great food in downtown Columbus and you have to make the effort to try it all.
My personal favorites were Iron Bank Coffee Co. in the mornings, Picasso’s, 11th and Bay, Tommy’s BBQ, The Black Cow and the Loft just to name a few.
I promise you will not leave hungry.
For the love of everything good on this earth, please do not show up throwing your business cards to as many as people as possible. This isn’t the place for that shit.
Build relationships and hand out some stickers, patches or pins. Get to know people and their story. I’m not even bringing business cards this year but if I did, I would only hand them out to someone if they asked me.
Along with throwing your business cards out to people, don’t go pushing your products and services on people either.
This place is about building community. It’s not a breeding ground for you to sell your stuff. Sign up for a vendor booth if that’s the case.
By hanging back during the day and going to your hotel each night, you can't experience Creative South like a champ.
Even if you don’t drink, that’s totally fine! This is an intimate setting and you will get your full money’s worth by investing in yourself and taking every precious moment possible to engage in deep conversations.
Many people hand out cool things like stickers, pins, patches, coasters, etc. Don’t feel the pressure of needing to go all out on swag to hand out to people. Soak up the Creative South experience instead.
People won’t remember you necessarily for what you handed out — they will remember you from the connection they made with you.
Party away, I know I will be, but don’t miss out on speakers, panels, vendors, conversations, etc. because you were too hungover and need puke in the comforts of your room.
This is a sure bet to waste your money and your experience. I understand taking a nap or recharging for a bit, but being a hungover mess isn’t going to impress anyone.
I was a bit reserved my first year, but last year and this year are far from the case.
There will be plenty of opportunities to embarrass yourself for awesome prizes. You can let loose, do karaoke, hug strangers or dance freely because seriously, no one cares and you’re even weirder playing the “too cool” game.
Alright, so if this is your first year then I can’t tell you how excited I am for you. As you can tell, I’m driving home the point that this place is all about the people and the motivation you will take home with you.
Be yourself, but also break out of your shell and do things you normally wouldn’t like introduce yourself to one of your favorite speakers.
Follow these guidelines and you'll be sure to experience Creative South like a champ!
ps. Definitely, make sure to come say hey to me as I have 2 types of pizza stickers to dish out.
Finally, if you need some more reasons to attend Creative South in the future, check out my friends Lenny’s Top 10 Reasons to Attend Creative South.
This week I have one of my good friends and role models on the show, Bob Ewing. Bob and I go back a couple years and he’s been someone in the creative community that really shines as an example of one who shows consistency, craftsmanship and is all about building relationships.
Currently, he is an Art Director for Element Three, Co-Founder of Inch x Inch, a talented letterer and illustrator, kick-ass dad and husband and you can catch him speaking at Creative South here in a few weeks.
Bob is the man and I think you’re going to soak up a lot of gold that he has to offer in pushing your creativity to that next level.
He committed himself to letter something every day whether it was 5 minutes or 5 hours—it didn’t matter except that he was drawing and lettering again.
Instagram became his tool of choice to hold himself accountable and to build an archive. His account started off private but eventually, he shared his work every day with the #hashtaglettering tag.
I first discovered Bob as he kept popping up in my feed and the consistency is what I noticed. When I talk consistent, I mean he extended this lettering daily commitment to a whopping 534 days in a row! Incredible right?
fell in love became obsessed with the process and now everything he does starts with pencil / pen and paper.
Bob's goal was simple and attainable, draw and post to Instagram—that's it. He made it winnable and not complex which so many of us seem to do the opposite when starting off. The continuation of the goal clearly made him better, but there were challenges along the way.
Mainly these issues revolved around:
Many times he reluctantly posted because he wasn't happy with the piece, but the goal was simple: get it posted. This wasn't about perfection.
Finding time was a factor as Bob is a family man with 2 kids and a wife while still trying to squeeze in freelance in there too. However, Bob is a great example of scratching that creative itch while still having a family and day job.
Sometimes he would be searching for words and inspiration which would waste time he could be working. He solved that problem by building an ongoing word list he could pull from each day without thinking. Similar to the Collecting Your Ideas & Building a Gold Reserve Episode 29.
No matter the challenge, Bob stuck with his commitment and it paid off in his craftsmanship and career.
His consistency I feel has skyrocketed him into a household name in the creative community. He now speaks and teaches workshops at conferences and events. He collaborates with some of the biggest names in the industries through Inch x Inch as mentioned in Episode 27.
It all stemmed from a consistent commitment to drawing again.
A theory from the book Art & Fear exclaims that your best work is found by doing your work and doing a lot of it.
This was the case for Bob.
He states, "Whatever you’re starting isn’t going to be great, it’s rare you’re going to be great from the start." You can see this in his day 1 #hashtaglettering to day 534.
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="1c1c1c" color="" class="" size="32"]It takes a lot of bad work to get to your best work and by making an effort to improve ever day, you'll get to your best work much quicker.[/perfectpullquote]
It seems like Bob is chopping it up with pretty much every I idolize in the creative industry. He's an extrovert and a people person and it shows in his commitment to building relationships with people in the creative community.
He's in this for the people as he states, "It's amazing the relationships you make in the design world. We are lucky to do this for a living. A lot of good comes from feedback and connecting on a deeper level and building relationships."
However, building relationships outside of the design community are just as important as well. You need those escapes and outlets from the creating world so he puts a lot of time building relationships locally too.
I asked Bob to leave you with a parting word of advice to a fellow creative who get's wrapped up in comparison.
He states, "You can’t compare yourself to otter’s as no one will create or look at work the way you look at it. You have your own experiences that no one else has."
Instead of dealing with jealousy and the envy of comparison, he flips it on its head by celebrating others and their work. He does this by sharing people's work through Dribbble which counterattacks the comparison trap.
A concept he pulled from Chase Jarvis talks about so many of us looking for outside answers to create our best work. When in reality, the answers to our questions are inside of us.
At the end of the day, it all begins and end with you.
Creative block is the worst, especially when you forget that great idea you had when driving on the highway. How awesome would it be if you never had a shortage of ideas to draw from so you can spend more time creating? (that’s a drawing pun)
I can safely say that I rarely deal with creative block because I collect practically every idea that comes my way.
Someone on my newsletter recently asked me how I went about this and I felt my reply could make a helpful episode in case you struggle with a lack of ideas.
Having a gold reserve of ideas has helped me battle creative block with:
I’m going to give you 4 ways to collect and build up your idea gold reserve so you can spend more time creating. This will help you easily come back to that idea you had when waiting in line at Chik-Fil-A.
I keep a handy little sketchbook with me wherever I go so I can jot down a thumbnail sketch or write an idea on the fly. Usually, I'll roll with Field Notes brand or with something my friends produced like my friends Tinlun Studio or Cuttink Studio.
Keeping it beside my bed at night is crucial as my head is constantly swimming with ideas when I try to sleep. I’m not taking any chances of forgetting it in the morning.
This has been the most productive way of collecting ideas and I can’t recommend it enough if you struggle generating ideas on the spot.
The gold reserve I’ve built up to battle creative block is buried in all these sketchbooks--perfect for referencing when I need inspiration to punch me in the face.
Sometimes you need to be a bit more thorough with your idea through writing and lists--especially if you have shitty handwriting.
In this case, I love using Wunderlist which is a task manager app for desktop and mobile. There are plenty of other things out there like iOS Notes app, Evernote, Omnifocus, etc.
Right now, the free version of Wunderlist is suitable for what I need.
For example, I have a Perspective Podcast category. Here I’ll store an ongoing list with subtasks that contain episode ideas which I can also add notes and dates to. I love that I can add to it on the go when I’m not on my laptop.
Other ways I use Wunderlist are to track a list of maintenance tasks I need to do on my website. I even have a shared list with my wife for things to get at the store because I’m always forgetting shit and lose everything I put on Post-Its.
It’s too easy to forget these things but a Task Manager App never forgets.
If I’m on the go and I can’t draw or write my idea, I turn to my homegirl Siri on my iPhone.
I tell her to “set reminder in X hours for me to write down or draw this specific idea.”
Sometimes she will butcher my idea but gets it close enough to spark the memory for me to collect it.
An example I recently had was, “Remind me in an hour to draw pizza on a skull.”
She came back with, “Remind me in an hour to drop pizza in schools.”
Why the hell would I intentionally drop my pizza? She obviously doesn’t know me that well.
Regardless, she is pretty helpful most of the time so I’ll give her a break.
Finally, I get some of my best ideas in the shower….
I’m usually listening to a podcast or audiobook through my Bluetooth Speaker when inspiration strikes.
It just so happens that I have Aqua Notes in my shower to “never let another idea go down the drain.”
Cheesy tagline but damn it’s the truth. I’m able to make a quick sketch or write a note and then transfer it to my sketchbook or Wunderlist.
To be honest, there’s really no excuse to why you can’t battle creative block by collecting your ideas and building a gold reserve.
In episode 26, Efdot gave some great ways to stay inspired, and now you have practical ways to collect and store those ideas for a rainy day.
If you’re taking your work seriously, I would recommend utilizing these 4 tactics in your game asap. Especially carrying a sketchbook with you at all times, that’s mandatory.
Collecting your ideas and building a reserve will help you spend less time thinking and more time creating when it’s time to throw down.
Have you heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee before? Chances are you probably have if you’ve been paying attention to the social media / entrepreneur scene.
I feel like he is a dude you either love or hate due to his bravado or profanity. One thing is for certain, people know of him because he made his name mean something.
As an immigrant from the Soviet Union, Gary helped his dad transform his notable Wine Library business to a powerhouse though YouTube vlogging.
From there, he’s gone on to build the multi-million dollar social media business, Vayner Media.
Vaynerchuk or Gary Vee wouldn’t mean anything to anyone if he didn’t bust his ass and pour his soul into what he was passionate about.
Picking a name for your brand or business can be hard and really frustrating, I can totally relate.
I’m here to convince you that you can make whatever name you choose to operate under mean something over time.
You have what it takes.
We were steadily building for 4 years and had:
However, I was creating so much work on the side and not all of it fit the style of the brand. I needed a way to share this work separately.
During this time, I was getting heavy into hand lettering. I thought maybe I could become a big time freelancer and I needed a business name to house all my work.
The first thing I went to was the typical Scotty Russell Design, Russell Studio, Russell Graphics, Russell Design Co. but they all sounded super douchey.
I despised having my name a part of it as it didn’t have a nice ring to it. All my colleagues I knew at the time had their names a part of their brand but to me, it never clicked.
I decided to explore a more abstract route instead.
I had a massive brain dump session (I love using that phrase) and began throwing words I liked on paper. Anything that came to mind I put it down and started to make connections.
The words Collective, Collection and Perspective kept coming up.
First, I was sold on the word Perspective first for 2 reasons:
Next, the word Collective and Collection sounded cool as it could mean all my drawings fell in this collection. Otherwise, down the road, it could mean I have a team under me.
After a month of throwing ideas around, Perspective-Collective was born in April 2014. However, it wasn’t until a month later in May when I gathered up the courage to announce it publicly with the branding I had created.
When you’re just starting off, it’s easy to feel stupid and doubt yourself.
If you’re like me, more specifically the old me, you want everyone to love your work and you’d be crushed if someone thought it was stupid.
I feel that’s what holds so many of us creatives back is we are afraid to have someone not approve of what we are doing. We see it as failure and that we don’t deserve a slot within the creative community.
I hesitantly began sharing through this moniker on Facebook and Instagram. This was the same time that my partner and I had some issues coming to agreements with shares and the future of Daydreamin’ Clothing.
Reluctantly, I stepped away from the brand and began putting all my spare time into Perspective-Collective. In the early days, I heard crickets when I posted my work. It sucked but I was having a lot of fun pursuing my work with no limits.
Over time, things began to pick up.
The obsession took over from there.
I started noticing that my increased quality of work and consistent dedication to the creative process is what was making my name actually mean something.
My point in sharing my story is that you can make whatever name you choose to operate under mean something through the enthusiasm and dedication of your craft.
You never know what it could evolve into.
Looking back on it now, it blows my mind what’s happened in the course of 3 years. Hell, a lot can happen in one year when you decide that you’re going to commit to something no matter what others may think.
I vividly remember my girlfriend (now my wife @theoilshelf) and my parents questioning my pursuits of self-employment as an artist.
Why couldn’t I work a safe job like everyone else and relax in the evenings?
In my head, I knew that I’m not like everyone else.
One night, I remember balling to my wife the day I decided to step away from Daydreamin’. I felt like a quitter but I remember telling her that, “I have this feeling that I’m meant to do something special with my life and my art. I don’t know what it is but I feel it.”
3 years later and both her and my parents see what I saw in myself in that moment. I feel it, even more today as Perspective-Collective has turned into something more than just a name to house drawings.
Perspective-Collective is the main side project that houses my other side project geared towards encouraging creatives like you.
These channels of the brand are:
Once I thought the Collective portion could mean future employees and I could scale it to be something huge. Now I realize the collective is really my best friend and me together.
Recently, it dawned on me that I would be nowhere without my wife’s support, ideas and constructive criticism. She is what makes this a Collective now as we slowly carve a role for her to do what she does best…which is pretty much everything I suck at!
Having her officially on the team fuels my ambitions to push this project even further.
If you’re like me, it’s going to feel super awkward putting yourself out there when you decide your name.
You’re going to overthink it and feel dumb, especially if you don’t get the response you want.
Shit, leading up to this past year my dad was still calling it Collective Perspectives. People are going butcher it or not understand where you’re coming from and that’s okay!
[perfectpullquote align="full" cite="" link="" color="1c1c1c" class="" size="32"]As long as it means something to you and it allows you to pour your soul into your work, that’s all that matters.[/perfectpullquote]
Gary Vee didn’t mean shit until he made it mean something.
Perspective-Collective didn’t mean shit until I made it mean something.
Now, it’s a part of me and I love it…aside from the fact that its length makes it non-username friendly across all social media. (Hence the name PRSPCTV_CLLCTV)
Regardless, you have the power to make a name for yourself no matter the name you choose.
Don’t let doubt and fear rob you of that opportunity.