Thoughts & Ideas

A couple weeks ago I attended AIGA Houston’s Inside Job conference. It’s a one-day conference that targets the creative community working at in-house departments within other companies – as opposed to working at external independent design, branding, or advertising agencies – and shares insights on how we can all work together more efficiently and creatively. 

The keynote speakers are here to share experiences that many in-house departments go through. The speakers can help answer questions or provide inspiration to these departments. One of the most common differences between an external firm and an in-house department is that the in-house department deals with only one client – their parent company. The speakers talk about a variety of topics, such as: how to navigate inner office politics, how to stay inspired when you work with the same client every day, how to initiate new programs within the company, what a day-in-the-life of an in-house department may look like, etc. 

As a board member of the AIGA, I am there to help out in whatever way I can, but I also benefit from listening to the keynote speakers and sitting in on a few of the break-out sessions between the keynotes. There were so many takeaways but I’m only going to mention a few here.

Elaine Cohen:
As an independent consultant for the design industry, Elaine knows the need for structure in any creative setting is imperative. A creative brief (or strategy document if you prefer) is the foundation for many creative and strategic initiatives in that it states the objectives of the project and how both parties (clients and the creative team) will measure results.

Emmet Byrne: 
As Design Director for the Walker Art Center, Emmet has to manage the in-house team that develops the marketing materials to showcase a large number of exhibits that go through the Center. These materials are used across multiple departments within the Center and must work across different mediums. Not only does he have to help develop the creative, he has to manage and coordinate across multiple teams to ensure a consistent voice for the Center that also shows the individual spirit of each exhibit. Emmet works tirelessly to make sure his team remains fresh and inspired to help reinforce the vision of the Center.

Ashleigh Axios:
As the former Creative Director for the White House (yes, THAT White House), Ashleigh not only had a tremendous amount of work under tight deadlines, she had the weight on her shoulders of knowing everything they did would be put under the microscope. With a small team, they determined the team’s goals and a structure to allow them to operate efficiently. 

It was a great mixture of people of different age groups, backgrounds, and at various points on our career path. People networked, shared ideas, asked questions, and collaborated in group workshops. It was a great day and I look forward to participating next year. Thanks to all the speakers and AIGA Houston for sharing your knowledge and experience. I will be applying this and the many more lessons I learned from this event to Herring in the near future. 

Below are a few images I took while at the conference.