Made in the middle to stand out from the crowd

Last Friday our creative department played hooky to attend the Made in the Middle conference. Held mainly on the KC Art Institute campus, Friday’s workshops allowed each of us the time to recharge our creative batteries and explore a skill or passion outside of client work. Between the four of us, we attended four workshops and a live podcast taping for Creative Pep Talk.

Andy from CPT spoke to creatives about their passion projects from illustration to coding, exploring the ways they keep the creative spark alive. My afternoon workshop was on micro-advocacy, and to be honest, I had major imposter syndrome. I was fully planning on floundering as the only writer in a room of designers, but the focus was on messaging and audience, so I felt right at home. Spending time crafting a message I cared about made me think about how much of an impact I could make and how I could create work I was proud to stand behind. Renewed, inspired, and full of pizza, I decided to ask my fellow creatives how they felt.


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Time for workshops!!! Starting off the day with dan at @vahalla printing learning the ins and outs of screen printing. #mitmcon2018

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Amy Brown's Pattern Design from Made in the Middle ConferenceThe Creative Pep Talk spoke a lot to authenticity. How do you make your work feel like you?

Amy B: I usually see myself in my work when I’m having fun with it. Making it fun is sometimes as simple as finding a color scheme that resonates with me. Or sometimes it means using a hands-on approach and picking up a paintbrush. I always try to let loose and get my mind in a state of play. This allows me to disregard the pressure of making something great, and my personality begins to naturally shine through. It’s all about finding ways to enjoy and embrace the creative process. That’s when my work feels authentically me.

Brendan Wray's Screenprinting at Made in the Middle Conference

What did you get out of your workshops?

Brendan: I started the day out at Vahalla Studios pulling some spooky Halloween-themed prints. It was such a blast getting my hands dirty (no, literally I left with a freshly inked, orange thumb). I love design, but recently I’ve become more and more interested in how work is physically produced. This workshop checked that box, highlighted the paragraph, and then wrote a note along the side saying, “This was rad as hell!” I ended my day with a Designing for Beer class at Boulevard Beer Hall held by Frank Norton. Look, I could tell you that we sketched designs for beers using tasting notes as inspiration (it was rad!), but I could also tell you that I met an art director who called me her nemesis. Drama!
Amy DeHart block printing

What’s your favorite element to bring into your work?

Amy D: This is a hard one! I love patterns, whether they are more natural, made with watercolors, or very vector and clean. I think patterns are a great way to further expand a project and create fun visual appeal.

Speaking of patterns AND passion projects though, Amy B has an amazing pattern passion project that everyone should check out!

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