In its nearly 30-year history, the HOW Design Live conference has seen a couple thousand speakers, countless “aha” moments, tens of thousands of attendees and an undisclosed number of free drink tickets.
Among all the numbers associated with HOW Design Live, we might argue that the most important is: 1. As in, the one meaningful, career-changing connection with another designer that you can make during the event.
This year’s program for HOW Design Live in Chicago is packed with nearly 100 sessions and a lineup of best-in-class speakers. Several thousand creative pros are expected to attend. It’s a big event. Yet most past attendees will tell you it’s the personal connections with peers that they remember most.
“The speakers and sessions are always great. The vendors and host cities continue offer something new and unique for me as well. And, reuniting with old friends is always a blast. But hands down, the number one reason I have come back year after year are the HOW ‘newbies.’ I meet 5-10 new people each year that remind me why I chose this field as a career. And the excitement on their faces reminds me of how I felt when I first attended – and how I didn’t want it to end … “
— Keith Smith, designer at Pacific Communications and HOW Design Live veteran
“Every time I go to a conference like that, there’s so much cross-pollination. I’ve developed great friendships with people across the country because of going to these conferences, friendships that have enriched my practice in really enriching ways. We’re not competitors, we get to support each other, and we get to meet up again at the next conference.”
— Rochelle Seltzer, creative coach
“I love working on events and bringing people together for inspiration and education. I also love the HOW Design Live—I couldn’t imagine not going every year—I feel like the HOWies are family.”
— Debbie Millman
“I love it when attendees come up after I speak or stop me in hallways to say hello or ask a question. All HOW speakers I know feel the same way. So I suggest HOW participants approach any speaker they want to meet. Such connectivity is one of the greatest benefits of the HOW Design Live conference.”
— Sam Harrison, author of IdeaSelling and veteran HOW Design Live speaker
“Years ago I saw Milton Glaser across the room at a HOW Design Live conference and I was momentarily stunned. In 1974 I came across his book ‘Graphic Design’ and it started me on my career path. I so wanted to go up to him, introduce myself and thank him for giving me inspiration in the form of his book. My feet seemed to be stuck in cement. With verbal encouragement from a couple friends, and a literal shove in the direction of Mr. Glaser, I walked up to him and introduced myself. He could not have been more gracious, even though I’m sure I came across as a bumbling idiot. The next time I saw him at a conference, he came up to me, acknowledged that he didn’t recall my name, but remembered me and wanted to say ‘hi.’”
— Jeff Fisher, owner of Jeff Fisher Logomotives and longtime HOW Design Live attendee and speaker
“On the first night of the conference a few years ago in Chicago, there was a group of us, about 15 people or so, hanging out in the hotel lobby after the festivities of the evening had passed. It was late but none of us wanted to leave. We sat up all night taking silly pictures and talking about our lives, careers, struggles and victories. Then we reminisced of conferences past, told stories of poor decisions and missing friends. We laughed. A lot. In my opinion, these are the moments that make the HOW Design Live special and why I would never, ever miss it.”
— Stefan Mumaw, creative director at Reign and veteran HOW Design Live speaker