Mother with tattoos and baby in lap working on laptop at home. (Photo by Tara Moore/Getty Images)

This was so cool! Creative Week NY: What we loved

May 17, 2013 | By Judith Rich | Creative

Storytelling Magic at Creativeweek NY

Last week, I had the good experience of attending Creativeweek NY, which is a week-long interactive conference for creative professionals.  It was my first time attending, and I was looking forward to breaking my daily routine and getting inspired by other creative comrades, some of who are the best in the industry.

The portion I personally attended was called the Creative Unconference, which is appropriately named because it’s unlike any conference I experienced.  The structure and agenda were loose, as they actually formed that very day based on what people chose to present.  I liked this approach a lot and found it conducive to creative thinking and doing.  Here’s how it worked:

  • First, we all gathered around and introduced ourselves and our affiliation – yes every single person!
  • Then we were each given a piece of paper and a marker to write down our topic of presentation (if we had one).
  • Finally, we were introduced to the “Big Storytelling Board” where we were to post our ideas into a specific timeslot.
  • And finally, it was go time!

Session 1 – with Pulitzer Prize Winning Photographer, David Turnley

Our first session was great, as the presenter was the highly regarded, David Turnley – also known for winning the Pulitzer prize for photography in 1990, and for being President Obama’s photographer in his first campaign trail.  Honored to be in his presence, I loved hearing about his experiences on the front lines, his perseverance and talent clearly coming through.  But what I found most interesting was that the majority of this session wasn’t spent exploring his own talent and creativity, instead he zoomed the lens directly on us.

Having the audience interview the person sitting next to them, and asking two questions (“What’s important to you in life?” and “How do you have fun?”) we got to uncover the true passions that drive us.  After this exercise, David encouraged us get up in front of the whole room and present our newly discovered information.  A bit scary, but also invigorating, my colleague Pam and I revealed our personal drivers in life in front of a room full of strangers.  A nice round of applause from the audience told us we didn’t completely embarrass ourselves – in fact, we learned a lot from each other, and gained a newfound understanding for each other beyond our professional roles.

Femme flux: The representation of girls and women in visual communications is changing. (Photo by Tooga/Getty Images)

Femme flux: The representation of girls and women in visual communications is changing. (Photo by Tooga/Getty Images)


Session 2 – Femme Flux: The Changing Story of Women in Imagery, Pam Grossman, Getty Images

The second session we attended was our own, as my colleague and Creative Planning Manager, Pam Grossman took the stage to present an exposé of the ever-changing portrayal of women in imagery (and society for that matter).  Having a vested interest in this topic, Pam told the story of today’s women through a collage of news and ad clippings, social media content as well as Getty Images’ content to tie it together.

The key takeaways included four top image trends we’ve identified that exemplify how the perception of women has changed:

  1. Role Playing – Women embracing their intelligence with professionalism as well as parenthood
  2. Real Beauty, Real Bodies – Women shown in an authentic light (flaws, no flaws), the way they are
  3. Funny Ladies – Using humor as the “ovum of dissent” to portray raw realness instead of manufactured perfection
  4. Heroine Chic – Gone are the days of all-male superheroes, enter woman as warrior queen
  5. The New Girl – A less stereotypical portrayal of young girls, as they’re encouraged to embrace their genuine selves

It was great to see the audience enjoying this, and engaging in some healthy discussion afterwards.  Pam fielded questions about the role of social media in influencing how women are portrayed, and we even took a look into the future of how women would be represented in a few years.  Although through this retrospective look, it’s clear that women have made great progress; still 99 percent of this audience consisted of women, showing that we still have a long way to go.

More Creativity

The rest of the day was spent in other creative sessions, one about the Audio Tour Hack, which uses “creative storytelling to send people on fun, interactive journeys.”  I loved the examples they showed, in which they hacked the MOMA museum as well as their latest project about Mad World – a testament to our society now from a future perspective.

My day ended with some food for thought (literally) as I joined an intimate discussion about the recent Jiro Dreams of Sushi documentary and how advertising can help or hinder one’s perception. In this case, we chatted with two advertising pros, Adam of AZDS Group and Marawan of Jacknife Design, who helped draw out the illusions we get from advertising.  We drew parallels from the film to real experience, as one of the speakers actually went to Japan to experience Jiro’s restaurant.  Did it live up to they hype? You’ll have to ask him.

Creativeweek was a blast, as you can tell.  I’d highly recommend the Unconference for other creative professional, seeking inspiration and wanting to meet other creatives in the industry.  I can’t wait for next year.

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  • Jessica

    great writeup! thanks for sharing your experience, Judith. definitely need to go to this next year!