My experience speaking at Create Chaos design convention in Orlando Florida.
Monday October 13th
I’m sitting in Cleveland Hopkins Airport waiting to board my flight to Orlando Florida. I’ve been booked as a speaker at Create Magazine’s design convention Create Chaos. At least for the moment my morning nerves have calmed down and I’m looking forward to the next three days. It’s the first such speaking engagement that I’ve undertaken. I’ve taught and spoken plenty at the office and at local design schools. I’ve even gone to career day at a local elementary school. But this is different. I KNOW kids at a school can benefit from my knowledge. The pressure to impress an auditorium full of fellow professional designers is a bit more daunting. I just hope that I can provide enough value to Create. After all, they have generously paid to fly me down to Orlando, given me passes to the convention and put me up in a nice hotel for two nights; all for one hour of work. I’ve never been paid so well.
If you’re wondering how I was booked as a speaker at a convention like Create Chaos, I think that’s a good question. I’m wondering it a bit myself. Go Media developed a relationship with Create magazine by submitting cover illustration. While none of our cover illustrations were accepted we did eventually land a gig illustrating an article for them. That article; Webtechnologic eventually went on to win an award. Our strengths in the area of vector illustration and apparel design must have lead Create to think we had some good information to pass along.
After surviving a turbulent descent and landing in Orlando I begin to make my way to the baggage claim. I need to pick up my bags then rent a car. The Airport is about 30 minutes from the hotel and convention center. Just before I reach the appropriate baggage gate I notice a nicely dressed young man holding a sign with my name on it: “Bill Beachy.” What the heck? Why is this man holding a sign with my name on it? Wait – I’ve seen this in the movies before. This young man is a driver! And he’s there for me! He’s not driving a Pinto either, it’s a black Cadillac Escalade with tinted windows. And inside is a fresh USA Today sitting on a leather seat. Wow. This is luxury. Create magazine obviously has me confused with someone of great importance.
The “hotel” is no less extravagant. It’s Marriott’s Orlando World Center Resort. The lobby is a huge cathedral of a space with 10 story vaulted glass ceilings, restaurants, coffee shops and three glass elevators. Just outside is a huge swimming pool surrounded by palm trees. I’m talking Las Vegas casino style swimming pool complete with twelve water falls and a mote! This is ridiculous.
By the time I’ve checked in and made it to my room I’m feeling sweaty and exhausted. Traveling tends to wear me out.
There is one last bit of “work” I need to take care of before I can relax. I need to go check in with the Create Chaos people and pick up my all access pass and goodies bag.
After a quick shower I decide to take some of the notes I’ve prepared and head over to one of the many restaurants in the hotel. I can eat some dinner and plan out how/what I want to present on. I have not yet written my presentation.
Still feeling calm. The food was fantastic, but a bit pricey. I think I will raid the mini bar for a beer as I watch some tv and settle in for the night.
Tuesday October 14th (presentation day.)
Ok, it’s a beautiful sunny day in Orlando Florida. My balcony overlooks a giant resort style swimming pool with a drink cabana. I’m officially frustrated as I sit in my room working on my laptop. I need to keep reminding myself that I am NOT on vacation.
This is the actual view out my hotel balcony doors. Yes, I have a balcony too.
I had not prepared a formal presentation because I knew I would have these six hours this morning. I’ll be working on this all morning and afternoon while everyone around me is running around having fun. What a drag.
Ok Beachy, stop your bitching. Coffee? Check! Sunshine? Check! Let’s get to work.
Presentation is coming together well. Downloaded some images from HQ – time for lunch break. Feeling good.
Back from lunch – just consumed a 12” Philly cheese steak sub. I think I’m going to burst. I’m feeling a massive food coma coming on; time for a power nap.
Back awake and feeling good. Time to get back to the presentation. I’m almost done. I’m taking three vector tutorials that I’ve previously written and combining them in PowerPoint to create one uber tutorial. This will hopefully fill an hour.
Presentation is done and I’m ready. I still have one hour and forty minutes before I speak. So far I’m feeling no nerves. I think I will double-check my event information. Then I will take a quick walk over to the convention center where I’m presenting to get a lay of the land. After that I think a short jog and shower will keep me loose. Once I’m back I can make a final review of my presentation, clean up and head to the presenters lounge. They have asked us to check in there 20 minutes before we have to speak. If I’m going to get nervous – that will probably be when it happens. Ok… off I go.
Ok, just got back from my walk-thru. I am now feeling a lot less pressure about this presentation. I was anticipating thousands upon thousands of designers floating around (like I had seen at other design conventions.) But this is nothing like that at all. The crowds are light and the few presentations I’ve popped my head into only had about 15-35 attendees per. So, I won’t be speaking in front of hundreds – just a small intimate crowd – phew.
I have discovered that this is their inaugural Create Chaos convention. That explains the light crowds. They have obviously spared no expense in putting it on. Everything is top-notch. The Create Chaos Café – which my goodies bag included $20 worth of credit for was full of fancy snacks, Starbucks coffee, salads, sandwiches, etc.. They are REALLY taking care of their guests. I anticipate that this convention will grow rapidly in the coming years. They are certainly pampering their guests.
Just got done with a short walk-jog around the golf course here. It’s an amazingly beautiful golf course; rolling hills, white sand traps and flower lined water holes. I am constantly in awe by this place. I can’t help but wonder where the money comes to make all of this possible. (For the record: I do not own stock in Marriott hotels. I guess I am just easily impressed by lavish things.)
Off to my presentation – still feeling calm.
Here is my class starting to fill up.
WOW! That was awesome. Just finished my presentation and I fell like I seriously rocked it. I didn’t feel nervous one bit. The turnout was good. I suspect I had about 50 attendees. I felt like I was being personable, funny and informative. After the presentation a number of attendees came up to thank me and make small talk. A few told me it was the best presentation that they had seen yet. Man, I feel good. There was even a good number of designers in town from Cleveland. It’s nice to know that C-town is representing.
Ok, time to go visit my boys at the JakPrints booth and grab some grub. Gratuitous plug: JakPrints is the printer we use for most of our print projects. They’re really great guys and do fantastic work.
Wednesday October 15th
Well, it’s Wednesday morning. I really don’t have any responsibilities today. I didn’t think through this schedule. I should have flown back late last night. I need to grab a cup of coffee and work on my article about this trip (that you’re reading right now.) After that I guess I’ll attend some classes and do a little networking.
Ha. I’m sitting in the convention hall working on this article when a designer walked up to me because he recognized the Go Media logo on my shirt. Several minutes into our conversation another designer walked up to join the conversation because he was also a fan of Go Media! Dare I say that Go Media is famous? That feels really good to know that other designers are aware of our company and instantly recognize our logo. It puts a smile on my face. They were really nice guys. Shout-outs to Brian Little (motion graphic artist from Tennessee) and Ricardo Bernardini (owner of Tentara Digital www.tentara.com). Nice meeting you guys.
Ok, time to go find a good class to attend.
On my way to the class: I Didn’t Know I Could Do That in Illustrator, taught by Sandee Cohen.
If you’re wondering why an Illustrator whiz like me would be going to this class – well, I’ve been using Illustrator for 10 years and I’m STILL learning new things. It’s an amazing program. I always try to tell young designers that they need to give this program a solid two months of dedication. You will likely find that Photoshop is not the Holy Grail of design software after all.
Good class. I did indeed learn a few new tricks. To summarize in 30 words or less; Sandee showed us how to quickly change copy that is sent in all caps to sentence case – basically all the first letters of each sentence are capitalized and the rest are lower case. Then she showed us how to use the graphics styles. She showed us how to map raster images onto 3D shapes that were created in Illustrator. Finally she showed us how to quickly recolor vector artwork using the Live Color option. These were all things that I never really used much, so it was an informative class. Thanks Sandee.
Time to pack up and head back to Cleveland. My Chariot -er- Cadillac Escalade awaits!
Plane landed safely! Phew.
Home Sweet Cleveland!