Made by Few Ignited My Creativity

When I signed up for the Made by Few conference, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

We bought our tickets before I started my job, so I wasn’t sure what my role in my host company would be or how applicable a design conference would be to me professionally. To be quite honest, I knew so little about design at the time that I wasn’t sure what a design conference would even look like. As the conference approached, I became slightly skeptical as to whether or not I would benefit from attending at all.

Arkansas Fellows pose in the remains of the Made by Few balloon arch.

Arkansas Fellows pose in the remains of the Made by Few balloon arch.

My doubts could not have been more unfounded.

I am so glad that I went! Made by Few has found its way onto my list of all-time favorite experiences. I spent the weekend surrounded by some of the most creative and innovative minds in the country (and the United Kingdom) while listening to lectures on fascinating topics given by accomplished and engaging speakers. Even though I’m not a designer, I gained invaluable insight both personally and professionally.

To speak of all the things I learned at Made by Few could take up 30 blog posts and countless days of rambling and reminiscing, so instead, I’d like share one of the most valuable ideas I gained from the conference– one that I believe everyone can benefit from, even those who weren’t fortunate enough to experience Made by Few themselves.

As someone whose job deals more with information application than creation, it was fascinating, inspiring, and encouraging to spend my weekend surrounded by creative individuals who think differently than I do and whose careers are so juxtaposed to mine. I knew very little about what design entailed and how it varies from job to job prior to Made by Few, so to network with designers and learn about various facets of design was captivating. As diverse as the designers’ work was, one constant resounded in every conversation I had: the importance of having a creative outlet cannot be overstated.

The Made by Few stage before Valerie Casey's talk.

The Made by Few stage before Valerie Casey’s talk.

Creativity is like a muscle.

It is indispensable to the makeup of every individual, and by strengthening it and flexing it, an individual is able to live healthier and happier. After spending the weekend hearing from speakers who prioritize creativity personally and professionally, I noticed that my life lacked a creative outlet. The conference proved to me that creativity manifests itself differently for everyone, so in the week since the conference’s completion, I’ve been searching for ways to invite creativity into my life. Writing has always been a huge passion of mine, so I’ve resurrected a personal blog that I’ve neglected for some time now. I’ve made plans to go paint sunsets with friends. I’ve been more aware of creative opportunities around me.

I’ve noticed even in the span of a week that seeking creative opportunities and flexing my creativity so to speak has yielded more creative ways of thinking. My problem-solving at work has improved, my memory has increased, and my attention to detail has heightened. I’m more appreciative of beauty in nature, and I can more easily recognize the creative decisions others have made that impact the way I live my life. For example, have you ever stopped to think about typeface? A creative individual designed the font that allows my thoughts to be communicated to you. Above all, however, (although I run the risk of sounding like a cliche admitting this) feeding my creativity has brought more joy and wonder to my life.

The result of conference participants painting a mural together.

The result of conference participants painting a mural together.

This is my biggest takeaway.

I didn’t particularly notice that I was missing a creative outlet prior to Made by Few. It wasn’t as though I was one of those cartoon characters who lives a gray, dull, monotonous life that contrasts the larger-than-life, colorful, exuberant protagonist, and it’s not as though my life has turned on a dime and become radically, noticeably different now. However, I wholeheartedly believe that life is more fun when we’re challenging ourselves, and by challenging myself to be more creative and to try my hand at various creative activities, I’m becoming more well-rounded and more fulfilled.

So, what’s your creative outlet? If you find yourself missing one like I did, I urge you to devote some time every week to doing something creative. Creativity has immense benefits and we should work to prioritize it in our lives. Once we fan the spark of creativity, there is no limit to where we can go or what we can do. In the words of Albert Einstein, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.”