Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Back from Chicago and Boy Are My Arms Tired

Whew! Getting back into the regular swing after even a short time away is challenging. I spent two days in Chicago at the Creative Freelancers Conference (check out the blog), and another day at the Chicago Art Institute's museum (to die for). It was definitely worth the time spent getting ready before and catching up after. Good thing this blog is billed as sporadic.
My experience this time was a bit different than last year’s. This time, as a second-year returnee, I had friends to greet and a familiarity with the tone and energy of the event. Both of those were great, as before. What was different this time was my greater awareness that there are really two audiences for CFC: people new to the business of being an independent creative, whether transitioning from a regular job or just out of school, and those of us who have been doing it for some time. This was addressed to a certain extent by the second day’s morning sessions having two tracks, but some of the material left me with a feeling of “been there, done that.”
Not that a refresher course isn’t a good thing from time to time. And certainly input from new presenters can offer new perspectives on standard principles.  I took exhaustive notes, and in transcribing them saw that I came away with more usable input than I had realized at the time.
I am sad to report that my roundtable about staying in the game as a veteran designer was roundly ignored by all but two people, one of whom was random because she came in late and just sat down at the first place she found. Of course it had a terrible title ("Too old to be a designer").  Who would want to sit at a table with a name like that? At any rate, it was a bust. Sigh. A designer in my age bracket said that she thought the median age at the conference was about 29, which probably isn't too far off the mark. I did notice some rather overt cruising, which had escaped my notice last year.

The rest of the day was one session after another, so I didn't have time to dwell on it. Until the last session, when they were doing a wrap-up and had prizes for certain categories. One of them was for who had been freelancing the longest. You won't have to guess who won. I was the sole survivor at 31 years, standing in a sea of 200 other sitting freelancers. It was a bit daunting. I did get a bunch of great swag, however, which didn't include a walker. So all’s well that ends well. I will review my notes and plan my next steps over the rest of the summer.