Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is near, ladies and gentlemen. This Cleveland creative conference is back for its 7th year and I have a feeling it’s going be better than last year. If you’re a creative and need some inspiration, new tricks, or just need to get away for some mental refuel then head over to WMC Fest. There is a Groupon deal for it and I would hop on that before it runs out, but maybe you want the Buy 1 Get 1 Free ticket on the WMC site. One of the pros of this conference is that it is an affordable one that even college students could attend.
What’s so special about this creative conference anyway? Well, I’m sure everyone will have a different answer, but for me it just happened to fit in a time of my life where I just needed to recharge my batteries and be around a group of like minded individuals from all over the country. If you are attending or plan on attending here are a few things to expect and enjoy to get the most of the WMC Fest experience.
One should never stop learning and attending at least one workshop will bring knowledge on a topic you wanted to know or learn more about. I do like the range from lettering to running effective meetings to even desk yoga to help during your workday. No matter what workshop you attend, I’m positive you will get a couple of nuggets out of it.
Watch Ink Wars
Watching people draw for an hour seems like it may be a bit more exciting then watching grass grow, but it’s very entertaining. The Ink Wars premise is this, 8 artists drawing on 8 foot canvases for 1 hour with a theme that isn’t given until right before they start. You’re watching the creativity workflow happen on the spot as well as judging them, possibly making bets with your friends on who is going to win. Music is bumpin, people are enjoying themselves all while the artists are cranking out these large illustrations. Another reason to watch this year’s Ink Wars is your boy Joe will be one of the competitors . That’s right Mr. Branded Baron himself will be drawing alongside other talented creatives hoping to be this year’s WMC Fest’s Ink Wars champion!(Click here to see who’s competing) If you think that you would like to participate, there will be 1 person chosen that evening to fill that 8th spot. Also, the people get to choose the topic, so if you think you have a good theme send them an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out the Vendor Village
Looking for a new print to hang in your home or office? Of course you are, or maybe you want some another merch that you can pick up from the quality vendors that will be selling their goods this year. There are print companies that can introduce you to their services and what they offer like good ol’ Jakprints. Last year you were able to screen print your own t-shirt which was a nice memento, so hopefully you could do that this year too. Take a walk around, you may find yourself picking something up.
Listen to the Speakers
This seems like a no brainer since a reason people are going are for the speakers, but really listen to what they have to say. Heather Sakai and Bryan Garvin (organizers of WMC Fest) really did a good job of picking a variety of speakers. What they are continuing to do is bring in people who aren’t just creatives and just telling their inspirational story of where they are, but people that will provide content. Not all the speakers will be a creative, which is an interesting curveball. I think you need a fair balance of stories that will inspire and contains useful content. Last year’s big shots were Debbie Millman and Michael Beirut and they were good as well as most of the other speakers, so expect some fantastic talks. It’s hard to hit it out the park with every speaker, but it is pretty damn close that you shouldn’t miss one. One of this year’s big speakers is Stefan Sagmeister, so that should be a packed theater. Honestly, I’m looking forward to all the talks.
This probably goes without saying, but take notes while listening to the speakers and attending the workshops. Let’s retain all the important knowledge that was dropped.
Check out the Podcasts
The latest addition to the conference are the multiple podcasts that will be there recording. Yes, Adventures In Design is podcast that has been there before and it may have helped pave the way to add more podcasts at WMC Fest. While Adventures in Design is on the main stage that closes out Saturday evening, there will be other podcasts happening in the vendor village throughout the day. Check them out, learn more about them, and I suggest checking out a couple episodes before seeing them. I know I will be sitting down with Jason Frostholm of the Creative South Podcast for a couple minutes and that should be fun. Who knows maybe you’ll appear on one of the others? Even if you’re not, hopefully you walk away a fan of some of them.
Put yourself out there
Some of us Creatives may have a tendency to be a bit on the introverted side, but this is the place where you want to release that part. Reach out to the speakers, meet new people, who knows maybe you’ll have new people to collaborate on a gig or just cool new friends. I met one of my buddies while having a drink after one of the workshops, and I’m in a daily group text with people I’ve met at WMC Fest. Expand your network, let loose, have fun, because everyone going are likeminded individuals and you’ll be able to connect with most. Find people through social media that will be attending and who you want to meet up with. I’m @brandedbaron on social media and I’ll look forward to talking to you in person. There’s also the Dribbble meetup, so sign up to that and let’s meet other creatives.
The After Party will be fun
This year there is an official after party and it is at a bowling alley that is only for WMC attendees. Let the good times roll and this continues with what I mentioned above by just put yourself out there, have fun, play a few games, play some pool, if they have karaoke sing a song or two off key. I suggest not getting too drunk where you’ll have a hangover that’ll make the last day not so enjoyable. Let’s have fun.
The bottom line is make connections, learn from the speakers, and have fun. Your experience is what you make of it and I hope it’s a great one.