Design Madison : Make Sh!t Conference


This is a bit overdue, but I want to share my experience from the Design Madison Make Sh!t Conference that took place July 11 & 12th at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Here’s a snippet to get an idea of what the conference was about:


“Process is a critical and necessary inflection point in the practice of design. Whatever the medium used or the mode of delivery, thought leads creation. At Design Madison’s MakeSh!t, attendees and presenters will explore valuable strategies, methods and process that give insight to the mental process of conceptualization.”


Here is my major takeaway from the conference:


Make sh!t you love.

Is that obvious? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s so critical to be doing what you love and making work that you are proud of, right? Yet sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the other things – making money, making clients happy, due dates, invoices, email. It’s so easy to get bogged down in that stuff and all of a sudden you are out of time to be creative. Personally, I walked way from the conference feeling very inspired and motivated to make time for doing things I enjoy- like sketching, DIY projects, baking, designing, and the list goes on.


Here are a few inspiring snippets from some of the talks.

Jeff Barlow | Starbucks

  • Reinvent yourself
  • Always be sketching
  • Feed your art

James White | Design Renegade – Signal Noise

  • Do personal projects
  • You don’t need clients to do work
  • Build your own reality

Trent Miller | Madison Public Library

  • Learn about the MPL Bookless Event Here. This had to be one of the coolest events in Madison, ever.

Mike McQuade | Designer

  • Do less, better. Yup.

Dave Franchino | Design Concepts

  • Our clients don’t have graphic design problems – they have business problems
  • Find things your client doesn’t even know they need.
  • Visionaries are also lunatics.

Lisa Nelson | ROOTS Chocolate

  • Lisa left her IT job to start her farm-crafted chocolate company. Who wouldn’t be inspired by that?!

Tuesday BassenTinyBob |

  • Have fun, okay?

Michael Nieling | Ocupop

  • We are makers, experts, and the authority of what we do.

Aaron Draplin | Draplin Design Co.

  • “Doo-dad-dingleberry-face-whiz-whatever”
  • Say YES maybe a little more than you say no.
  • Shitchya.


Head to Design Madison’s Facebook Page to see some conference photos. Here are a few of mine:








Overall, the conference was a huge success – and I know next year will be even better.