Last weekend I did something I have never done before. I attended a conference for creatives.
(Pause for emphasis.)
Me from 5 years ago would be shocked, but proud. Five-year-old me would be excited and proud. Current me, is so proud. Only very recently, did I even start thinking of myself as possessing any creativity. To me, this illusive skill was reserved for incredible artists, dancers and writers. I thought of it as a personality trait that only a lucky few had.
It was my personal experience, that to take art classes past a certain age, you needed to be good at art. (I realize the irony in this statement now.) I enjoyed doing arts and crafts projects while in elementary school, but never considered myself an artist. In fact, I remember being in about 3rd grade, looking at self portraits and sketches for book reports and wishing my art was "better". Being a good artist was not a prerequisite for art class at my school. But the idea of being bad at something, in front of peers - in other words failing - was simply not an option, for my ego. I know I'm not alone in subscribing to the following thought process; "Why would I go out on a limb and try something, I'm not very good at, when I could just stick to stuff I'm at least average at and feel comfortable doing?"
Because I thought I was bad at art, I didn't pursue it. I didn't take any art classes, I didn't try, and I didn't practice.
I had already made up my mind that art wasn't "my thing". As an adult, I now know that if you're not taught a skill, odds are, you aren't going to be very good at it. Some people are naturally suited for a certain sport or subject, but for the most part, we're not born with the skills needed to be amazing at everything. We learned how to read books, ride our bikes, and how to share with others. We learned by building upon past experiences, gradually increasing our knowledge base over time. We learned by practicing, failing, getting up, and trying again.
If you haven't taken a course, read a book, and/or practiced for a long period of time, don't expect yourself to be an expert.
These days, I'm all about praising children, and adults, for their effort instead of their inherent talents. [Of course, I'm not the first to propose this concept.] The gifts we were born with are incredibly special and should be celebrated. But not at the cost of the energy we spend learning how to do something. I learned how to crawl, walk, and eventually run. Then walk again, because turns out running makes me really sweaty. I wasn't born knowing how to write an essay, or prepare a meal. I learned (am still learning) how to be a friend, daughter, and partner. I learn by practicing.
So, in the vain of practicing, I decided to try something new, and I rolled up solo to a conference for creatives in San Francisco. Boom. For some, surely this is no big deal, but for me, at this stage in my life, this was huge.
Now, show us the pictures, Andrea.
It was a gorgeous day in the city, warm and sunny, very un-San Francisco like - but I'm not one to complain. The conference was at Fort Mason near the Presido. Although it took a little while for me to get into and across the city, parking was easy, which made my cookie cutter, suburban heart happy.
I'm a huge fan of Brit+Co, and when I saw tickets open up for this year's Re:Make conference I was all over the opportunity to attend. I didn't know what to expect, and that made me nervous. But, because I'm trying to practice what I preach, I knew it was a chance to try something new, meet new people, and learn new skills.
There was a life size coloring book, sponsored by Crayola and Target! It was a cool way for attendees to add their own personal touch to the space.
Brit Morin's welcome was about the positive effects being creative can have on your brain and body. "Science has proven that it's possible to enhance your cognitive functions and lower anxiety levels simply by participating in creative projects." She added how important it is to practice strengthening your creative muscles by investing time in projects that you enjoy first. "More practice = more creativity!"
When she opened with this topic, I breathed a sigh of relief. I thought to myself, I'm with my people.
In addition to the giant coloring book, there was a DJ booth, a little Brit+Co pop up shop, yummy juices and snacks, a 3D chocolate printer from Hershey (woah), plus a gif/photo booth.
The Made With Code booth showed off their partnership with Zac Posen, that was happening concurrently at New York Fashion Week. They made dresses that's patterns and colors are controlled by code with the technology seen on the laptop. I even got to try my hand at being a designer!
Once everyone made their way to the main room, we noticed sketchbooks, plus watercolor paint palettes, and a bunch of fresh brushes at every table. The books had instructions to paint the front and back covers, using any of the supplies provided for us. Brit mentioned that she hoped we would take notes, doodle, paint, and draw in these notebooks throughout the day. I didn't know how much I would love this exercise, but I ended up really letting my mind wander with color and script style notetaking throughout the presentations. I included some shots of my notes below!
P.s. painting all day with a group of strangers is my new favorite hobby.
Left: The hosts for the weekend were Brit Morin herself, and John Colaneri from HGTV. Right: Bonnie McKee is a singer + songwriter, who wrote nearly all of Katy Perry's songs, plus "Til' the World Ends" made famous by Ms. Britney Spears. She performed a medley of her biggest hits, and was an impressive live performer.
I had a major fangirl moment listening to Jen Gotch talk about her business philosophy for her brand ban.do, as well as admitting to crying at work. I first fell in love with Jen when she was a guest on Jess Lively's podcast. Her presentation at Brit+Co covered a lot of advice for the #GirlBosses in the audience. She discussed the importance of building a strong brand, making cool stuff, using social media, listening to your customers- but not the haters, and how to say "No" in order to say "Yes" to better things. Lastly, she reminded us to focus on the Top Level Shit, in other words, to only worry about the important things in the big picture.
The day was full of presentations covering topics like creativity, technology, fashion, entrepreneurship, music, and how they can intersect in today's multimedia world. I was so happy that I went and committed an entire day to practicing. I tried something for the first time, I stretched my creative muscles, and I had fun doing it. Turns out, #iamcreative.