A Creative Conference That Will Transcend Your Passion & Focus
You know when you get home from an incredible experience and have immediate withdrawals? Ya, that’s what I’m currently going through as I return from Creative South.
I knew Creative South ’16 was going to be epic, but it shattered all of my expectations and rocked me to the core. I want to give you a bit of an inside scoop of what it’s like going from being a first time attendee last year and not knowing a single soul to being right in the heart of the experience and getting on stage a year later.
I’ll be sharing the atmosphere of the conference, the amazing people, my highlight experiences and my reflections on the speech I gave.
I get goosebumps just writing about it…..
I have a biased opinion as this has been the only creative conference I’ve attended, however, many people I’ve talked to have been to plenty others and they all say the same thing…[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”#1C1C1C” class=”” size=”32″]
“Creative South is the best conference — where you come as friends and leave as family.”[/pullquote]
The three things I can use to describe the atmosphere of Creative South are:
Whether you fly, charter or drive into Columbus, GA, you immediately feel it in the air that something special is taking place. There is a certain vibe that sets the tone that pulsates throughout your body.
Every attendee is in a good mood. It’s impossible to not give a cheerful greeting to someone passing by. Even the locals are happy to have such a wonderful event in their backyard and they are appreciative of you being there.
No matter your skin color, religion or ethnicity, Creative South is all about acceptance. Creativity and a love for art and design unites us all as one. Judging and generalization are discerned when you enter the downtown strip. Expect a hardy dose of heavy hugs as the motto of the conference is #Hugnecks.It’s only weird if you make it weird.
The best thing about Creative South is the people you’ll meet and the conversations you’ll have. Last year I didn’t know a soul and this year I rekindled distant friendships and sparked new ones that will no doubt blossom over the years.
When someone tells you it’s important to surround yourself with like minded individuals who are driven to succeed, I’m positive they are talking about the people who attend Creative South. Once you’ve attended and experienced this first hand you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.
There were many people that I had a meaningful conversation with; I’d attempt to list them but I know I would leave someone out. Just know, you guys are very special to me.
However, I need to give a huge thanks to those who specifically played a role in helping me make the most of my experience: Mike Jones, Diane Gibbs, Lenny Terenzi, Jason Craig, Brian Manley, the Level Up Society, Ian Barnard, Drew Hill, Bob & Steph Ewing, Ann Ford, and the entire Creative South staff. You guys made this a memorable moment in my life.
Where do I even begin….?
This year I went all out and disregarded all of my shy tendencies last year. Below are some of the highlights that will no doubt be yours too when you attend.
I started off Thursday by attending two amazing workshops to cultivate my brush pen calligraphy and script lettering skills.
1. Script Lettering with Wells Collins
Wells absolutely crushed this workshop and blew the students minds (including myself) with his dynamic skills and ability to dominate a variety of styles. He educated everyone through the brush strokes and basic terminology with tips that helped any beginner get on their feet or any advanced artist step up their game.
What was most impressive is that although the class was jam packed to its capacity, he managed to find a way to do a walk through and connect with each person individually.The dude killed it and I highly recommend you check out his Instagram: @WellsCollins.
2. Crayligraphy with Colin Tierney & Ian Barnard
I not only took this class because Colin & Ian are good friends of mine, but I also wanted to continue to strengthen my script calligraphy and broaden my range of tool mastery. Hands down these are two of the most serious talents in the game and both are crushing it on social platforms.
They dealt with adversity as their computer hard drive failed on top of the class size was much larger than expected. It goes to show the high demand for the skills they were providing! However, these two dudes absolutely crushed the class and left everyone addicted to mastering the art of Crayola calligraphy. It’s crazy what you can create with a childhood marker and these guys know what they are doing.
If you want to learn more about how you can learn Crayligraphy you can visit here.
The Bridge Party
Mike Jones sure does know how to throw a party. Thursday night they shut down an entire bridge that connects Alabama and Georgia. The drinks were flowing, great food was everywhere and the conversations were amazing. Not to mention the InkWars competition going on.
The bridge party really sets the tone for the event and it concludes with a rad session of fireworks.
Last year I was too scared to participate, but this year was a different story. It’s a rush to hear your name get announced as you enter the boxing ring and have your process being displayed. The competition is fun and I highly recommend it to anyone!
Drew Roper and Bryan Butler of Typefight do an amazing job organizing this event and I will definitely be participating for years to come. You can also compete year round online!
Food & Conversations
You can’t go wrong any time of the day when food and people coexist together. Every morning I started my day by meeting the crew at Iron Bank for coffee and breakfast. Just being around these creative minds energizes your soul without the need for caffeine…..yet we all drank it like our lives depended on it after the late nights.
Lunch and dinner varied from Canon Brewery, Picasso Pizza, Flip Side, 11th & Bay, the Black Cow, etc. That’s where the deep conversations took place and you got to learn about the person and not just their work. Impactful relationships manifested and the best photos seem to take place during these times.
I feel the biggest value and takeaways come from attending the speakers. This year there was a stacked lineup and the ones that really stood out to me were Noah Elias, Peter Deltondo, Anton & Irene, Adam Grason, DKNG and Draplin.
The speakers message ranged from educating, inspiring or entertaining while giving exclusive insights to their approaches and processes. Getting to meet them in person was also a great experience; everyone of them was humbled and just glad you were present.
More than a Drawing
Finally, I want to share my experience of getting to speak this year in the historic Springer Opera House.
Saturday, April 9th I was given the opportunity to open up at the 9:15am slot. Brutal time for those with hangovers but I was so overwhelmed with the amount of people who showed up and it meant the world to me if you were there. With being the opener on the last day, it’s crucial to bring some energy and that’s never been an issue for me before!
I was blessed to have two killer mentors, Jason Craig and Brian Manley, backstage with me who mentally prepared me and kept me from playing head games. Before I took the stage, Mike Jones prayed over me and I felt this calmness take over — and then I was ready. The nerves were there but they fueled my confidence as I took the stage.
As you step onto the stage, you’re instantly devoured by bright lights beaming in your eyes — that’s when you know it’s showtime. It’s captivating yet intimidating knowing you have total control of the entire room and I was ready for the opportunity.
Preparation and practice really helped me out as I wanted to inspire, educate and entertain the audience all at once. Honestly, I blacked out the majority of my speech and really couldn’t tell how the crowd was reacting. The only things I could remember are when I veered off the script and started to freestyle and drop Harry Potter quidditch references.
Due to the bright lights and dark room, the only people I could see were in the front two rows and it was comforting to know they were all my friends. You guys know who you are and I’m forever grateful for your presence and support.
As the speech concluded, I had no idea what reaction to expect from the large crowd. It started with a gradual building applause which grew louder and louder. My mind was on the verge of exploding from excitement and that’s when everyone in the auditorium rose to their feet.
It took everything in me to not break down and start balling on the stage. The amount of support and love you guys gave me seriously changed my life and I’m holding back tears from falling on my keyboard as I write this.
That moment will forever be permanently stamped in my mind as it was a day I challenged and conquered my fears while sharing my vulnerable side. It’s tough to do this as you’re an open wound welcoming scrutiny and being judged always stings — yet you showed me an overwhelming amount of love and encouragement and I will never forget it.
It showed me that I’m more than just a drawing posted to Instagram and that my voice and message can help others start creating with a purpose. I want to convince you that you have the power to do the same — your voice carries value and it’s waiting to be delivered to someone who needs it the most.
Easily one of the top highlights of my life and I can’t wait for the next speaking opportunity; feel free to email me if you’d like to assist me on this journey.
Invest in Creative South
If you took the time to read this, I hope you’re starting to plan on making the best investment you possibly could in yourself. Creative South is more then just a conference, it is a place where you’ll build lasting relationship, find the answer to your burning creative questions, enhance your craft through workshops and speakers, and get out of your comfort zone as that is where the most growth happens.
This conference is waiting for you with open arms when you’re ready to make the leap and change your life.
It’s on you right now and you have just under a year to make this happen.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity, I promise you will not regret it but you will regret it when you see the photos, videos and recaps from everyone’s experience.
That I can promise.
Something New I’m Offering You
I try to tell a story with each piece and I want it to create a memorable experience when you read one of my posts. I’ve had people ask in the past but now if you want to purchase the original feature image drawing from any blog posts, just shoot me an email and offer me a price.