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“Find yourself by losing yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandi

I was fortunate enough to attend the Adobe MAX creative conference this month in Las Vegas. This was most memorable quote from one of the many conference break out sessions was shared by Rule29’s, Justin Aherns. His firm believes that good creative drives business and that same creative can also drive social change, solving world problems to improve the lives of others. Much like our work and mission here at Uptown Studios, this outlook really resonated with me. I was reminded of my responsibility to our community, to Sacramento, and the work that we do t0 improve the quality of life for our clients and the people they serve. We partner with local organizations and embrace them by providing quality creative in the hope of furthering those missions and elevating those organizations to a place of significance in our competitive world.

Next, what began as a discussion on creating a UI design system for millions of Americans, turned into an enlightening and emotional story about facing public criticism despite altruistic motivations. Mina Markham was the designer responsible for Pantsuit, the underlying design system created specifically for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Mina created a modular design system for all facets of the campaign, from website assets, to button styles. But what impressed me even more was her resilience to the negative backlash she received on social media for her work on the campaign, being a woman, and also being an African American. Her strength to rise above it all and take the high road was awe-inspiring. As designers, we have all had difficult clients and sometimes our best efforts are not well received. From this session, I’m adopting Clinton’s mantra that was passed on to Mina, “Take criticism seriously, but don’t take it personally.” It’s important to listen to our clients, putting our personality and ego aside as perhaps that complaint, while maybe voiced unfavorably, there may be some underlying meaning or message that should be explored.

Lastly, Jessica Bellamy, founder of GRIDS: The Grassroots Information Design Studio shared her experience working with non-profits and her passion to create social change. She understands that many non-profits have limited budgets and resources. Her practical approach and sage advice informed and validated much of the work we do here at Uptown. You can be creative with limited resources and craft emotional narratives that drive change. She focuses her efforts on communicating through visual storytelling using information graphics, low-budget printing solutions, social media, and grassroots efforts to create successful campaigns. Great design can create social change, and disseminating an organization’s mission is paramount through whatever means are necessary and obtainable.

While the conference was filled with sneak peeks to new technologies, useful tips and tricks that I can implement daily in my own workflow, and highlights of software updates from the Adobe suite of applications, it was these personal experiences that energized and inspired me the most. I was excited to return from the conference, eager to apply what I learned with the increased motivation I felt listening and learning from others that share our same goal.

Designs through social change. It’s what we do everyday. If you would like to see how we can help your non-profit succeed, take a look at our portfolio and contact us today. We’d love to chat about how we can elevate your non-profit or business to find its place in serving our community.

Mark Hébert
By Mark Hébert