This is so great! WMC Fest is definitely a highlight of the summer, and this does a great job explaining why.
Do these photos look like a vacation? I hope they do.
One of the remarkable things that makes Weapons of Mass Creation (WMC) different from other conferences is that it isn’t some hollow gesture to give fanfare to the already successful so we can hear the redundant diatribes about being passionate, quitting our jobs, or making more “stuff”.
No, WMC is something immeasurably more important because it’s filled with flaws, compassion, chances to share your darkest professional vulnerabilities with someone you admire, and then later ask them to visit you from across the country.
As designers, so much of ourselves overlap with each other in spite of our differences. What we have in common far outnumbers the differences that separate us. Those differences have a chance to be a catalyst for what will ultimately be a better world—a better industry.
We can leave this world slightly better than we found it, and that comes from overcoming our flaws with confidence and communion. It is only self-serving when our individual concerns are limited to status, whether it’s fame or popularity, and fueling a system of conference after conference of the same over-priced messages.
You’re a designer: you know to be passionate, prolific, and to do what makes you happy.
But you’re also human: you should learn that we have to help each other advance our craft because we are each flawed and we must do this with limitless generosity.
I won’t remark on the individual talks. The organizers are posting videos, and the single most important takeaway isn’t actually the talks but the culmination of the event: I left Cleveland not a better designer, but a better person because the speakers were honest.
Not to be mistaken with the delusion of grandeur that we’re curing cancer or saving babies from fires, but the ideas and stories shared by the speakers is about their lives, and not just the successes that come from creativity. I can’t think of another conference where there was a standing ovation for a couple of designers who talked about moving back in with their parents because they couldn’t afford to live their dreams in Brooklyn in spite of their tremendous talent and dedication to the craft of good design.
The friends I made this year were generous in talking about their failings, fears, hopes, and what they want to do with their work. You know, I’m not sure how to be a designer without any of those things.
I only know that being a designer is my deliberate effort to change the world and I need you for that.
Thank you WMC for this, because this attitude and generosity is sorely needed in the design community.
Thank you new friends I met at WMC for this, because your kindness and generosity is always welcome and wanted in this funny path of life I call a career.
Oh, here’s a few quotes so this could be more useful than just my soapbox pep-talk:
"At the end of the day, you’ll always have ideas, but they won’t love you back," Valerie Mayen
"There’s always someone who has it tougher than you, but does it anyway. Just ask yourself ‘Is it weirder than throwing a show in the parking lot of a Taco Bell?’," Caroline Moore
I can’t replicate all the words Jon Contino used, but this should suffice:
Jon “I’ll make a billion dollars, destroy your house, make you live under a bridge” Contino at /bum.com in response to Stupid Mark’s mom.
PS. Some of these photos are mine, but quite a few are from Caroline Moore. Check out her awesome work!