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Creative South 2016: Round Four

Shane Helm

Shane Helm

This past April was my fourth trip to Creative South. Mike Jones, who runs the conference, had invited me years earlier and I was hooked immediately. There is no better conference for designers to come and build community. “Come as friends, leave as family” is the CS tagline and no tagline has ever been truer. The bond I share with Mike and many other creatives is closer than I would’ve ever imagined years ago when I clicked a follow button on dribbble or Twitter. Early in my career, it was hard to get to know other designers, but now due to social networks and people like Mike Jones, we don’t feel like we are alone in the many struggles of design and creativity. We have a support group, a family. Thank you, Mike!

Creative South is also an important networking event. Two years ago, while we were driving down to Creative South, Engage was interviewing Ryan Slater in the car over the phone. When we returned, Engage hired him, so you never know how a Creative South may change your life trajectory. I’m sure that countless others have used the conference as a chance to network and find new opportunities that have helped advance their careers.

This conference is also growing. When I attended in 2013, there were around 250 people. This year there were nearly 800. It has grown so much that this year’s official hashtag, #CS16, trended on Twitter for 15+ hours in the number one position.


Eddie Lobanovskiy, Nick Sloggett, and Shane Helm at Creative South 2016

Eddie Lobanovskiy, Nick Sloggett, and Shane Helm at Creative South 2016


But Creative South is also about finding time. Time to spend with other creative friends. Time to get to know each other, and not just through an online account, but a chance to meet industry leaders and up-and-coming artists in the flesh. It’s also a chance to talk about important things, family, God, life, fears, hurt, joy and pain; over meals, walks, talks and speeches.

Over the next few days I’ll be writing about our trip down to Creative South and what we found interesting and inspiring at a very important conference. I hope that our stories inspire others to seek out local creative conferences, such as Creative South, get to know other local creatives, and reframe the way we think about our approaches to design. And if our stories inspire you to come down to Creative South 2017, I look forward to seeing you there.