Seven A.M. rolled around and I found myself once again showered, clothed and navigating my way back to the theater for more coffee. Sure I could have slept in, but once again I wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss anyone talk because you never know who or what will inspire you. The first speaker was Robbie. This was his second year attending Creative South, he was already speaking infront of the attendees, and he killed it. I was in awe listening to how professional he sounded, and it was only his second time speaking in front of a large group. In many ways his speech alone embodied the power of Creative South. Last year he was so moved into action that he was actually speaking at the following years event. He really is a testament to what it’s like leaving the conference, fully charged and with no limitations.
Day two continued with a live podcast featuring Clark Orr. His love of pop culture, particularly the 80’s, is almost unmatched. The format of his talk was a welcome break from the usual presentations, as he was interviewed live for the Creative South Podcast while a slideshow of his work played on the screen behind him. His responses felt organic, spontaneous and pure which made his talk feel much more intimate compared to the rest of the conference.
DKNG then gave us a brief glimpse at their process. Their presentation started even before they did, as a time-lapse of their Explorers: Space series played during the gap between speakers. Beyond their process we got a quick history lesson on where they came from, and it’s always interesting to see that everyone starts off small and grows. It’s easy as a young designer to get caught up in the portfolios of the big fish because we get to see them in the here-and-now instead of as they grew. That’s not to say that DKNG didn’t killing it in the beginning, but they certainly had to earn their place in the spotlight over years of heard work and dedication.
Aaron Draplin closed out Creative South with his new presentation about the development of his book, Pretty Much Everything. It was great seeing a fresh talk, as I had already seen Tall Tales from a Large Man multiple times through various outlets. I have to say, this man is not a one trick pony. The new presentation was filled with more heart and even more humor. It’s hard not to like the guy regardless on your opinions of him, he’s just so genuine.
If you thought I partied hard the last two nights, you couldn’t possible imagine the night I would have as my send off back into reality. I was up until five, and besides a few awkward moments generated by a couple of other attendees, the night was a nonstop celebration of old friends and new relationships. The craziest part is, that because so many of the speakers had to fly into Atlanta and take a shuttle to Columbus, many of them just didn’t go to sleep... which in turn meant that I didn’t go to sleep. The party kept going as the guys from Forefathers walked out to door to their shuttle, and many more people went to their rooms just to throw their belongs haphazardly into a bag so they too could rush out the door too.
Creative South is an indescribable event. You can only really try to capture the big moments with words and pictures, but so many of the little things can’t be explained, they can only be experienced. I hesitate to urge others to buy tickets, because after seeing this year I can only imagine that word will spread and the conference will outgrow it’s current home. The beauty of the venue is that Columbus is so far removed from the outside world and still so eclectic that it really fosters the kind of environment that allows people to connect in ways that other conferences like HOW and Brand New cannot. Because there are only four or five places to eat and drink, you’re bound to run into someone to connect with, and if all else fails you know that everyone is going to end up in a hotel lobby belting out I Will Always Love You, because at the end of your 2-3 days you can’t help but feel that song sums up exactly what Creative South embodies to everyone who is lucky enough to attend it.