CreativePro Week – What an Awesome Experience!

Creative Pro Week is an annual event, for designers and creatives. It is the go-to conference for learning, networking, sharing ideas and getting truly inspired! It’s focused on the tools we designers use to do what we love to do, design. This year, it was held June 10-14 in Seattle, at the Downtown Westin. For many years, Anne-Marie Concepcion and David Blatner, heads of Creative Pro Network have put on a great conference, full of dynamic speakers, fun events and so many unbelievable learning experiences.

This is my 5th year attending, I was at one of the first in San Francisco over 10 years ago, then again in Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and now Seattle. Every year, I’m amazed at the inspiration I feel while learning, and how fantastic it is to network with all the speakers and attendees.

CreativePro Week: Where Creatives Become Creative Pros

CreativePro Week is the world’s best “how-to” event for creative professionals who design, create, or edit in Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Microsoft PowerPoint, and other creative tools.
Whether you work in print or digital publishing, you’ll learn techniques and best practices you can take home and start using immediately to improve your productivity.

From the CPW website

Last year, New Orleans 2018 was my first time as a speaker and I was thrilled to be asked back this year to speak in Seattle. My sessions were a 3 hour deep Dive into Illustrator, Working with Object Styles in InDesign and another on Lists and Numbering in InDesign. After talking to people after my sessions I really hope that the lightbulb turned on in people’s heads about different ways to use these programs, and how to work smarter!

The event began on Monday morning, with a full (I mean full) breakfast buffet. People gathered in a few large rooms with tables labeled with “graphic designer” “ebooks” “freelancer”etc… or a host of other table cards so you could sit with people of a similar interest. It was great to get the conversation started, and many times, that conversation formed into a great friend, contact or networking opportunity. After breakfast, everyone picked a seminar style session to attend. There were 16+ sessions to pick from every day, covering a range of topics, so you were sure to find something that you’re really interested in, or want to learn about! The best part is that you can pop in and out of the sessions, you don’t need to register. Handouts are provided for all sessions so you can preview what’s covered before hand and have the materials afterwards so note taking is not as necessary. Lunch was another beautiful spread, and again networking at the many tables with fellow attendees, all of us just looking for a friend to share in a conversation. Monday night is a reception where food…. glorious food and drink allowed for some great socialization, and mingling with fellow attendees, speakers, sponsors and engineers from Adobe.

Tuesday began much in the same way as Monday, food, networking and trying to pick out the best sessions to attend. My Illustrator Deep Dive was from 9-12am and I had a full house. I always like to chat with the audience while people are getting settled, to get to know their pain points with Illustrator. I heard many of the common questions, color, pen tool and combining shapes, which happened to be many of the topics that I would be presenting during the workshop. I led attendees thru many topics in Illustrator, such as the Shape Builder tool, working with the Pen tool, Fills and Strokes, the Appearance Panel, Global Colors, Recolor Artwork and more.

A common question is whether or not to bring a computer to Creative Pro Week. For my sessions, I prepare detailed handouts with instructions for many of the exercises and demos that I show. It’s better to have full attention on the screen and speaker to soak it all in. Having the handouts printed or displayed on an ipad or computer is helpful so you can see the directions as well as watch the speaker demonstrate. There isn’t time to try out the lessons like in a classroom style session, so you’re better off not trying to follow along in the program while class is in session. I like to have my computer available during breaks or at night to try out something that I really want to remember!

Tuesdays sessions included day 2 of the PSAI conference as well as the beginning of the InDesign Conference – all about InDesign! Trying to choose between all of the great content and engaging speakers seemed to be the hardest part (oh, and trying to remember what you’ve learned)! In the afternoon, I presented my Object Styles: Your Secret Weapon for Productivity session, and again, enjoyed a full room and some great questions afterwards.

Another benefit of attending CPW is the access to the speakers. So many conferences I’ve attended you only meet and interact with the attendees. The speakers seem to have a “green room” that they hide out in. Not at CPW. The speakers may be “experts” in their field, but as designers, we know that there is SO much more to learn! I attended quite a few sessions this year that I learned a new trick, shortcut or way to do something in these programs that I’ve been working with for years! And between sessions, I like to network and learn from everyone else. It becomes like a family. There is an “Ask the Expert” table, and during a break, after your presentation, speakers man the table to answer more in depth questions. Attendees get a chance to pick the brains of the speakers. So many people come over to the table with a computer and show a problem they are having – and with such a great wealth of knowledge, one of us is usually able to solve the problem or suggest a way to make a job much easier. Someone asked me a question to which I didn’t know the best answer, so I pointed them in the direction to another speaker who I knew would be able to help better than I! It’s all about the community.

Tuesday night is one of my favorite events – the Ignite Presentations. Attendees get a chance to have 5 minutes in the spotlight on a topic of their choice! Presenters prepare 20 slides, which advance every 15 seconds automatically. The topics ranged from the history of the “&” ampersand, to how a project was completed, how to handle change, and my favorite, a revelation learned at CPW last year, and how it turned into an awesome interactive app using ‘s plug-in in5!

Wednesday was a full day, The InDesign Conference was the main focus and it was the highest attended day, with overlap from PSAI and into the Thursday PePcon and Click conferences. CPW keeps growing, this year we were very close to 1,000 people over the course of the 5 day conference. What an accomplishment.

Thursday and Friday were filled with PowerPoint, Keynote, ebook publishing, Presentation Design, and so many other topics relating to the awesome visuals that we create every day. I had an awesome three days interacting with everyone and on Thursday afternoon it was time for me to depart for home, near Chicago. I will fondly remember the great comments and questions that I received during and after my sessions. I truly love to hear about something I say that makes a listener say “Oh THAT is why!” or “NOW I understand how that tool works”. It’s why I love to teach, and show how to set up styles and use tools that will save you TIME, and therefore, make more Money 🙂 I’m often asked which design conference is a “do not miss” and I truly believe that Creative Pro Week checks off all the boxes for designers, production artists, presentation designers, and all others that create beautiful content of all kinds for a living. You will come away with new friends, new contacts, new companies to work with and KNOWLEDGE. The very first training company that I taught for had a tag line “Knowledge is Power” and I truly believe that. The more you know, the more you learn, and the more open you are to trying out new things, the more marketable you are. Even more important, I believe I’m happier with what I do with all my new skills.

If you missed out on all the fun this year, you can still watch all the sessions online, from the comfort of your own home computer. You can purchase a Virtual Pass for any or all of the conference days. If you attended this year, you’ll automatically get access to the days that you were register for – but you can always purchase the other days if you feel like you want more. I love going back to watch a session that I really liked, or one that I missed because I was speaking or it conflicted with another.

Next year CPW travels to Austin, Texas! See you next year! If you have any questions about the event, getting to and from or how to convince your boss to let you join us next year, connect with me and I’m happy to have a conversation about CPW or training or speaking to your organization. -Cheers!

Thanks Jeff Carlson for taking this awesome shot of me speaking! I do have fun in my presentations!
– Photo by Jeff Carlson; courtesy of CreativePro Week