Lessons from Design Ranch.

Posted on Apr 20, 2015 in events, lessons
My projects and some other goodies from Design Ranch.

My projects and some other goodies from Design Ranch.

From spontaneous afternoon bookbinding to late night raving in the Vinyl Listening Lounge, some amazing things are bound to happen when you stick 180 creatives together for 5 days.

I’m talking about Design Ranch. Yeeeehaw, y’all.

AIGA Austin hosts Design Ranch every two years out at Camp Waldemar in Hunt, Texas. It isn’t your ordinary graphic design conference – it’s basically a sleep away art camp for creative professionals. It’s about connecting with fellow designers, exploring analog skills, detaching from technology and enjoying plenty – I mean, plenty – of good beer.

Now let’s get a little reflective. Here are two of my personal lessons from the weekend.


Yea, I am a perfectionist. I can spend hours on a project only to consider it finished when I’m burnt out and never want to look at it again.

But that’s no fun. So now I’m launching Mission: Goodbye Perfectionism.

The time constraints at Design Ranch fueled my creativity while inhibiting my addiction to perfectionism. For instance, each workshop had a set timeframe. We weren’t there to hand letter the perfect poster or stitch the perfect banner – we were there to explore new skills and express our creativity without any pressure.

This mindset was unbelievably freeing and energizing. Rather than being motivated by pressure (internal or external), I was more motivated by pleasure and dignity.

So now, rather than wasting energy stressing about minute details, I’m aiming to squash perfectionism, be proud of my work and generate a momentum that keeps me creating and growing.


At how many networking events have you formed friendships? Or at least a true relationship?

At the typical conference or networking event you stick with small talk, hand out your business card, then awkwardly move onto the next person. You might connect on LinkedIn, but likely never talk with them again.

This weekend, however, we spent real time with one other, dove into deep conversations and even embarrassed ourselves a little bit. (Or… a lot.) Forgive the hippie in me, but it was beautiful.

I think that candor helped fuel the essence of creativity around the camp. Since there was no pressure to be stuffy or to impress bigwigs, you were free to let go a little, be imaginative and form relationships that you can actually carry on in real life.

(My Facebook is blowing up from friend requests and photos from the weekend. I’d say that’s a sign of success in 2015.)

Anyway, see y’all at DR 2017.

- Jess

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