53 Thoughts from HOW Design Live

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HOW Design Live

HOW Design Live gets better and better every year. The incredible energy, the incredible speakers, the nearly-overwhelming sense of inspiration and camaraderie—all of it makes for an experience that’s transformative, singular, and irreplaceable. That’s why we decided to pull our notes (and the notes of other attendees on social media) together to create this list of excellent takeaways from HOW conferences past that we had the pleasure to hear and record.

It can be hard to stay inspired, but these overhearings will keep you feeling the urge to create and engage.

Invaluable design quotes from HOW Design Live, appearing in no particular order:

“Creativity is not an answer. It’s a process.” – Stefan Mumaw

“We control the machine. At one point the machine controlled us.” – Karim Rashid

“If you’re laughing at yourself, you’re not worrying about yourself.” – Megan Mead

“Our methodology needs to respond to the needs of each project and environment.” – Maya Bruck

“If you created it, you own the copyright.” – Von Glitschka

“How we identify ourselves actually matters.” – Jonathon Colman

“We are neurobiologically hardwired for story.” – Brene Brown

“We can be in reactivity mode or creativity mode.” – Stefan Mumaw

“What we have here is a 3500 year old problem.” – Cheryl Heller on gender inequality

“We are not our business cards. We are not our resumes.” – Jeff Greenspan

“If you think there might be a book one day devoted to your work, keep everything.” – Adrian Shaughnessy

“Don’t write over you designs. Let them evolve.” – Aaron Draplin

“Time is short. Use what you have.” – Sonja Rasula

“There is so much we can do to make the world a better place by using creativity and imagination.” – Robin Landa

“If you’ve done well it’s your obligation to spend a good portion of your time sending the elevator back down.” – one of Tina Roth Eisenberg’s aphorisms but not her original words

“Creativity is the world’s greatest weapon. It always wins.” – Mimi Valdés

“Be the leader you wish you had.” – Simon Sinek

“Work hard and love this shit.” – Aaron Draplin

“Do good work for good people.” – Aaron Draplin

“There is no room for arrogance in design.” – Mary Zalla

“Follow your dreams.” – Matteo Bologna

“Do your research.” – Matteo Bologna (and conversely: “Screw research. It works if it looks right.”)

“Building community is building something bigger than all of us.” – Ted Vadakan & Angie Myung

“Exceeding expectations is a minimum requirement.” – Dan Formosa, Ph.D

“Fear of failure will cage your creativity ” – Evelio Mattos

“Time management is at the core of every design.” – Matteo Bologna

“Stop banking on experience. Start betting on potential.” – James Sommerville

“Develop a design so distinctive it can be recognized by touch” – James Sommerville

“There are no boundaries or borders in the digital age.” – Karim Rashid

“Why are we here on earth? To create. It’s in our nature.” – Karim Rashid

“Every paper has his own personality. You have to choose the right personality for your project.” Ken Lo

“Don’t mistake fearless design for reckless design.” – Ron Burrage

“Say yes to the ideas in your head, free fall in to the unknown and create your own parachute.” – Ted Vadakan & Angie Myung

“Innovation is found in the extremes. Defy designing for the average. Averages are useless.” – Dan Formosa

“Implicit rules are the biggest barrier to creativity. Make rules simple, know what rules are being broken, and don’t let dumb rules stick around.” – Noah Brier

“The area of awesome is at the finest line between awesome and nonfunctional.” – Faris Yakoub

“Originality is the art of concealing your sources.” – Faris Yakoub

“Complex ideas are compounds of simple ideas.” – a quote from John Locke, referenced by Faris Yakoub

“Design is for people, not products.” – Alex Center

“Be a thought leader, not a craftsman.” – Alex Center

“Courage isn’t inside; it’s external. It comes from someone else telling you they believe in you.” – Simon Sinek

“Leadership is like exercise…. Do it everyday, the results take time but you will see them. It’s the little things.” – Simon Sinek

“You are an artist when you make someone feel something deep and unexpected.” – Amanda Palmer

“Quit the bitching on your blog and do not say that art is hard… play your ukulele.” – Amanda Palmer, from her “Ukulele Anthem”

“It would nice to live in a world where art can just be art!” – Amanda Palmer

“When we deny our stories, They define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending.” – Brene Brown

“Knowledge is only rumor until it lives in the bones.” – Brene Brown

“When you choose a managerial path, you are choosing to devote your life to people. Period.” – Tom Peters

“Think about the market, think about the design, and think about who is going to design for that market. Hit the mark.” – Tom Peters

“Every little job counts. Design counts.” – Michael Bierut

“If you’re digging a hole in the wrong place, making it deeper doesn’t help. – Seymour Chwast via Michael Bierut’s keynote

How to save the world with design: “Do a little something here or there that helps improve someone’s life.” – Michael Bierut

“A loose identity system has enabled us to literally and metaphorically build on the ideas of one another.” – Michael Hendrix