HOW Design Live 2016

Blog, Boelter + Lincoln, HOW Design Live, Graphic Design

“When you make something no one hates, no one will love it.”

While I didn’t agree with everything that Fredrick Ost and Magnus Berg presented during their breakout session at the HOW Design Live annual conference last week, this quote from the founders of Swedish design firm SNASK really struck me. It dared all of the creative designers to be bold with their work. After all, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

As one of the premier conferences for graphic designers, it was truly a career-inspiring experience for me to attend HOW Design Live in Atlanta two weeks ago. Hearing authors, artists, designers, art directors, creative directors, entrepreneurs, CEOs and other creatives share their knowledge and philosophy was fascinating.

One of the most interesting sessions I attended was hosted by Target Creative Director David Hartman. His mission with the Brand Design Lab at Target is to create brands and design experiences that delight guests, improve their daily lives and deepen their relationship with Target. Working on 15 Target-owned brands – including Threshold, Market Pantry, Simply Balanced and Up & Up – his team has delivered packaging for 100+ categories and 10,000 skus. One of the big takeaways from his talk was finding ways brands can deliver scale and impact without sacrificing intimacy and humanity. Three team principles he uses within his department are: 1) See all the work; 2) There are no small projects; and 3) There’s more time than you think.

David related a rebranding effort for Market Pantry packaging in which he stated that you don’t have use photography for some obvious products. Butter doesn’t need to have a photograph on the package showing what butter is; people know what butter looks like. They replaced the image with large typography saying “BUTTER” to make it more eye catching from afar.

At B+L, we come across the inverse problem with packaging for Gorilly Goods. People who haven’t tried their product before don’t know what “Jungle” or “Hillside” mix is, so we have to show it on the packaging. It’s unique and not a common or basic product/ingredient that has been on shelves for decades like butter has. It goes to show that each brand and product vary from situation to situation.

Another important lesson I learned was during a session called “A Force For Change” led by Leland Maschmeyer, chief creative officer and founding partner of COLLINS. His talk focused on the balance of forces between the client and creative. When brands lean too far toward the “The Artist” or too far toward “The Suits,” problems arise. When balance is achieved between creativity and control, an organization’s messaging resonates better with consumers.

Besides all of the great speakers, the conference included a lot of resources from stock photography sites to paper sources. is a great free resource to use when a client isn’t sure they want to print something. They provide research and statistics to help back up your print solution. And it’s all free. Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum was there to print letterpress posters for conference-goers at no charge, too.

Overall, the whole conference was a breath of fresh air and extremely inspiring. I could relate to a lot of the speakers and felt like I was part of a design culture. There were a lot of different people, but we were all there as one. It was a really cool feeling and has completely inspired me to push myself and others around me.