CreativePro Week 2020 – The one during the pandemic

CreativePro Week 2020 

In early February, I booked my airfare from Chicago to Austin TX (with a stop the night before to visit my brothers in Dallas). As a speaker, I had received my InDesign Conference session topics – Create Engaging Interactive Documents in InDesign and Styles, Next Level Tips. I was working on ideas and examples that I wanted to present for my sessions. I was getting excited to see my fellow speakers, the many people who run CPW and most of all – the attendees. I truly enjoy connecting with everyone, learning about their lives, both home and at work, hearing about their InDesign and Illustrator projects, and hopefully answering questions or connecting them with someone that can. 

When everything started to cancel in March due to Covid-19, I thought “Oh no, the one week that I get a hotel room all to myself, have a great time hanging out with my creative friends and learn a ton all at the same time is going to be cancelled completely!” But thankfully, I was wrong. David Blatner, Marci Eversole and the CPW team stepped up and made the difficult decision to take CreativePro Week online. At first I thought, Hmmm this isn’t going to work. It’s going to be boring, and it won’t capture the true spirit of the CreativePro Week conference. It would be one big, long “work like” zoom call. 

Am I In?

A few weeks later, the speakers were given all the specifics and asked if we were “in”. YES! I definitely wanted to be a part of this Online CreativePro Week adventure. I didn’t want to be left behind. So I quickly submitted my “YES” vote. I’m glad I did!

I prepared my videos and my handouts to be presented live during our original time slot. I put in a lot of time and effort into planning, recording and making sure my session presentation matched my handouts so the brave attendees would learn and benefit from what I was presenting, and have instructions to go back to after it was over.

CreativePro Week 2020 has arrived!

On Monday morning, June 1, when I should have been eating a huge breakfast spread in an awesome hotel, (my favorite part, ok, one of my favorite parts of being at CreativePro Week) I logged into the CPW site from my home office and watched my fellow speakers present their craft. It was great! It was fun and enthusiastic. Every single one of the sessions that I watched, I learned something new. I learned a new way to approach a task, maybe I learned a new way to get to a familiar dialog box or panel. I learned a new keyboard shortcut or a new tip that I didn’t even think about before. The reality is, even though I feel like I really know InDesign and Illustrator, I’m always learning something new. I’ve passed the Adobe Certified Expert exams and have been using and teaching InDesign and Illustrator for years, but there is always a little light bulb that goes off when I watch someone else give a presentation, even a session on a topic that I have taught myself. 

What did I learn?

I watched sessions all day, and jumped from the session to the Q&A all day. On Thursday, after Russell Viers presented InDesign Long Documents I finished the CPW day and worked into the night modifying and organizing one of the long documents that I am currently working on. He gave me tips, tricks and best practices that I should have been using from the beginning. Basically he gave me a kick in the pants to get my stuff organized. I also watched Chad Chelius’ InDesign Fundamentals: Building Solid Documents to make me realize a few preferences that I should be using (Smart Text Reflow and Delete Empty Pages) and learned a way to lock a Master item so it can’t be modified. I can’t believe that I didn’t use that one on a regular basis! I learned about RGB to CMYK workflow with Theresa Jackson, and I saw all the new Library features in the Managing your Assets with Adobe Libraries session with Bart Van de Wiele. Later that evening, I organized my libraries, deleted unused ones, named and grouped library items for my current projects. Thanks Bart for showing me all the NEW Library features!

I could go on and on – I’m eager to watch the rest of the sessions that I missed and write down the nuggets that I need to remember. 

CreativePro Week 2020 wasn’t just about watching people show InDesign/Illustrator/Photoshop/Powerpoint tips from their living rooms.

The great thing about watching the sessions live was the chat and the Q & A that immediately followed. During the presentations, people would ask questions about a shortcut that was mentioned or other tip, and the moderators and other attendees would quickly answer. Many times someone would post a link that would go into more detail for a script to download, a video to explain the topic in a different way or an article to go into more detail. It was awesome to be part of a group of insightful people who were all learning and eager to help. 

Let’s Chat

Immediately after the sessions were presented, and the chat rooms were filled with great questions and helpful comments and answers, we all jumped into the Q&A Zoom room where the speaker was live and ready to answer questions. In most cases, speakers demonstrated more about their topic that they didn’t get to during the actual presentation. During my Styles and Interactive sessions, I watched with the attendees and wrote down all the questions and hiccups that people were commenting about. I had my files open and once I welcomed 100+ people into the Live Q&A room we were ready to roll. I started by answering and expanding on questions that I saw in the chat. Then attendees would click the “raise your hand” button to be unmuted so we could interact in real time. I know we all missed the opportunity to gather after the sessions and collaborate around the “ask the expert” table, but this online interaction was the next best thing. People loved the live Q&A rooms, I know I did. There were great questions asked for which I tried to give good answers, some shared their experiences and what worked in their workflow and others just sat back and watched and learned from the questions and demos. It was an excellent, collaborative extension to our sessions.

One of my Q&A sessions lasted over an hour, because one of the Adobe Engineers for InDesign joined us and asked the group questions, learned our pain points, wishlist topics and asked about other features that would help Adobe create a better InDesign. It was so much fun to actually have Adobe listening as I ask for new features or talk about frustrating InDesign issues, instead of my computer screen staring back at me with a blank look!

CreativePro Week is great live, no doubt…but this is 2020

CreativePro Week is an unbelievable live conference, there is no question about that. The food, the locations, the people, the friendships created, the connections and the learning is best digested with almost 1000 of my favorite people gathered in a hotel ballroom and beyond. But in the case of this crazy year we call 2020, since we had no other choice, I’m thrilled that David, Marci and the team made that difficult decision to take it online this year. I can’t wait to be back with “my people” in Washington D.C., May 17 – 21 in 2021. Let’s hope we are all able to hang out and learn in the same room again in May 2021!