Horton, principal and founder at Memphis-based creative firm Hieroglyph, wants to bring national talent to Memphis to help the creative community grow, network and learn from each other. The second Creative Works Conference is Oct. 1-3 and will feature a group of talented design professionals from as far away as the Netherlands, Vancouver and New Hampshire and as close as Nashville.
The conference celebrates the role of creatives in the community, while providing an outlet to come together to learn and take action.
Conference attendees will learn from design peers during workshops and breakout sessions, while getting a heavy dose of networking opportunities. A marketplace will feature designers and vendors selling goods in a farmers’ market atmosphere. There will be six speakers per day followed by evening events.
Tickets are sold out. Horton said the mix is about 60 percent Memphians, and that’s important in helping the local design community form new relationships.
Matt Lehman is a Nashville-based designer, illustrator and art director who was a speaker at last year’s inaugural event. He said he regularly attends events like Creative Works in part for the valuable networking opportunities. But he said he was impressed by the “Memphis feel” of last year’s event.
“The aspect that Memphis is a big part of it is appealing,” he said. “That’s probably weird coming from a Nashville guy but there is an emphasis on making your own community better. How do you improve the daily lives of your clients and your city? I think Memphis has had its ups and downs and it’s scoffed at in some circles. If you want to be someone the feeling is you have to move to New York, Austin or Portland.
“But what Josh has done is let’s focus on Memphis and show you how we’re making strides in our own community and have professionals learn and give back to the city. That was an interesting concept.”
The conference will be at venues across the South Main Historic Arts District, including Central Station and Emerge Memphis. Doug Carpenter, principal at doug carpenter & associates, encouraged his employees to attend the conference. He also wanted to be involved by hosting one of the after-parties at the firm’s South Main office, 431 S. Main St.
The event will have plenty of food and local beer, a deejay playing Stax music and an art exhibition featuring Tom Carlson’s ink drawings and commentary on current and former Memphis buildings. Yes, it will be pure Memphis, and Carpenter said he wants to help spread the message.
“People who visit Memphis find it to be remarkable,” he said. “From a civic advancement perspective, the fact we’ll have these folks come from other markets to see us and go back and share it, for that perspective I love it. And for the local creative market it’s fantastic that the city is a draw and that Josh puts the energy in to bring other creatives who can challenge the status quo and get them here to be part of a larger conversation – we can bond together a bit more.”
Horton said it was important last year to have an event that was intimate and felt authentic. The intent is to keep it informal, even though it is something he feels could happen just as easily in Austin, Portland, Seattle or even Nashville. But it’s important that the focus is on creating a community and discovering new talents in Memphis.