October 13, 2017

Creating With Abandon: In/Visible Project Brings Designers Back to the Drawing Board

[reposted from Universe blog]

Design conferences aren’t what they used to be. With more of their mental real estate devoted to the tech innovations that translate into UX gold, there’s less space for zeroing in on the purely creative process. In/Visible Project is here to change all that. Conference co-founders Dava Guthmiller and Arianna Orland are taking the design conference back to its roots: yes, design.

“This is not a user experience conference, it’s not a digital design conference, and it’s not a branding conference. It’s about how creativity and design reaches across all those and is relevant to anybody in the creative field. ” — Dava Guthmiller

In/Visible Talks

With inspirational speakers and networking opportunities for everyone from product and print designers, brand shapers, and artists, In/Visible Project’s biggest event of the year is the In/Visible Talks conference. In/Visible Talks isn’t just an annual conference, it’s also a series of smaller salons throughout the year that focus on a particular topic central to the creative practice. Ramping up to the big event on January 11, 2018 in San Francisco, Invisible Project co-founder Arianna Orland gets real about the creative processes so central to her life and work.

“Invisible Talks is a full-day design conference about the creative process. Our goal is to bring people together in conversation about the art of design. The art of creating something involves process and inspiration and challenges, so the talks are meant to cover those bigger stories,” she says.

Solving the conference slump

In addition to being half of the founding duo behind In/Visible, Guthmiller also helms branding and design agency Noise 13. So her approach is anything but theoretical — she knows what it’s like to solve problems and ignite imaginations through design day-in and day-out. She and In/Visible co-founder Arianna Orland previously worked on SF Design Week in 2016 and realized there was a desire among designers to engage more deeply in purely creative conversation together.

“We were just seeing kind of a decline in design conferences that really talked about the creative side, especially in San Francisco. Obviously, we live in a very tech-focused city, but part of that was really becoming the same conversation over and over, and we were missing the creativity side. Starting In/Visible was a combination of wanting to connect with our peers and really dive into the creative process, but then also both of us have 20-plus years of experience and were really feeling just a little bit disconnected from the design community,” Guthmiller says. “So this was a place for us to connect all of our friends and get people to have conversations outside of their very specific industries and really figure out how we can better connect and utilize each other’s knowledge.”

The other half of the founding duo is Arianna Orland. By day she consults for some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley on brand building and experience design. She is also the creator of Paper Jam Press a small batch letterpress poster company.

“Over the years, the industry has exploded in scale, the tools have evolved and we keep changing what we call ourselves. But many of the challenges we face as designers are exactly the same as they were 20 years ago” Orland says. “How can we locate truth and authenticity in the work? How can we organize a group of people and co-create with them? And with the pace of work accelerating all the time, how can we find time to nurture our creative selves? This idea of nurturing our creative selves is a big one for us. Being a whole creative person is how we keep our instrument in tune. I have friend and mentor Hillman Curtis to thank for that perspective. He taught so many of us the value of nurturing our individual creativity both for ourselves and for each other. Our hope is that through hearing the real stories behind how design gets done attendees walk away with a full heart, a full mind and a renewed perspective they can bring back to their work.”

Designing for joy

As consumers, our feelings toward a brand shift implicitly based on the brand’s design presentation. Even for print-only creatives that don’t have UX or SEO to contend with, the psychological component of design looms large. According to Guthmiller, encountering a lack of design does two key things: “I think one is a perceived value of a product or service, and then the other is a motivation for somebody to continue that relationship.”

Design informs whether or not we’ll delete that new app or continue shopping in a particular brick-and-mortar environment. But it’s much more than just aesthetics driving these everyday consumer behaviors. “I think design goes beyond look and feel and really is how something works,” Guthmiller says. “I think that it’s a complex part of products in any way whether they’re physical or digital. But things that are really complex can become really easy or really joyful to use if they’re well-designed. Same thing if they’re badly designed. You can have the easiest experience in the world, but if it’s badly designed, nobody’s going to love it. And at this point, consumers are really hungry for things that connect to them on a human level and create value in their day-to-day.”

Keeping design human

With the rise of artificial intelligence, more companies can get an AI-designed logo if they need to. Design is becoming automatable. In/Visible strives to grow hand-in-hand with burgeoning technology while keeping the human element of design thriving. Guthmiller says that while brands that can’t afford top-notch design services are wise to go the AI route, they also risk becoming the fast fashion of the digital world.

“The more formulaic we become with our user experience and the functionality of things, the more interesting the visuals and messaging need to be to really capture people’s attention. I really hope that designers can create lasting values for themselves and get off the computer once in awhile, and touch things, and bring that inspiration back to the digital experience — especially once we start getting into virtual reality and all this other stuff,” Guthmiller says.



In/Visible Talks 2018 speakers

Thinking In/Visible Talks might be up your alley? This year’s lineup promises a heavy dose of inspiration for attendees.

Kelli Anderson

Anderson is an artist and author well-known for her books This Book is a Camera and This Book is a Planetarium — modern pop-ups where you can actually stick your phone in and utilize the paper structure. They’re a confluence of digital and print design, and Anderson has a knack for showing how both sides work together.

Morag Myerscough

You might’ve heard of Myerscough because of her fantastically colorful installations. She’s an expert in working with loud, bold visuals both public space as well as signage and graphics. If you’ve ever been to the Zynga office here in San Francisco, you’ve seen her stuff in the cafeteria. Her work is unapologetic, graphic, and fun.

Samantha Warren

Warren is an Experience Design Manager for Adobe Stock and Typekit, where she leads the product design team responsible for Adobe’s creative marketplace. You may know Samantha from her project Style Tiles where she created a process to help others establish a common lexicon with their clients and stakeholders on visual design projects..

“I think one of our goals with speakers was to really make sure that we had both well-known names as well as people who are actually doing the work inside the organizations and not just the leaders of the organizations,” Guthmiller says. “Because they’re usually the ones with the most hands-on activity around being creative and executing a lot of the stuff that their bosses are throwing at them.”

Sound like you? Get your tickets now and follow @invisibletalks.