Design Talks to Sparks Your Creativity


Over the last few years, we’ve all had our share of conferences we attended or design talks we’ve watched online. Personally I’ve always had a few favorites myself. Maybe you’ve heard of them, maybe you didn’t but I’ve gathered 6 talks and 2 podcasts that stuck out to me the most.

Overall, I think you’ll notice a theme among them; they are all geared towards how to think differently. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

Design Talks

Paola Antonelli – Why I Brought Pac-Man to MoMA

Paola Antonelli works as a curator for the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In this Ted talk, she explains why she chose Pac-Man to be featured in the museum. She received a lot of criticism as an interactive game is hardly art. Yet, she does, in fact, work for a museum centered around modern art and interactive games, some of them going back to 1960, can in fact be appreciated for their beautify too. It also goes much further than the visual graphics of the games too – it’s also about the code that made it happen.

Critics cited that games are made up of code which is not art; Paola asks why not? Games like Pong, Pac-Man or even the Sims where incredible innovations for their times providing countless entertainments for millions both then and now.

Brad Frost – Death to Bullshit

Brad Frost’s talk about bullshit is truly enlightening; he explains that we are surrounded by so much useless information, aka bullshit. There are various types of bullshit out there all aiming to gather our attention: 24-hour news, invisible unsubscribe buttons, spam, marketing jargon, pop ups, tracking scripts, auto-playing audio, or seizure-enduring banners.

This stuff is everywhere and we are becoming less and less sensitive to it. As creative people making products all the time, we should do our parts in outputting less of this crap. It makes for better products and it makes the world a better place.

Mike Monteiro – Fuck You, Pay Me

Of all the talks on this list, I’m most certain you heard of this one. Mike is amazing at writing books and giving talks. Fuck you, Pay me is a Creative Morning talk in which he compels us freelance or contract workers not to give into our clients and take what’s rightfully our – our money.

The creative and web work still have a stigma that for some reason we don’t need, want or worse, deserve, the money for our hard work. In this pretty funny and charismatic talk, Mike talks about how to be a better and fiercer freelancer.

Plenty Money – The Scariest Thing in Hollywood

Planet Money is an NPD podcast about, well, money. In this episode they talk to Rob Cohen who is most famous for his Fast and Furious movies. The episode goes over the stigma of how movies are made in Hollywood and Rob Cohen’s struggle to fit in. Rob explains that he took a risk to work with a low budget film and it paid off.

The podcast goes over an interesting story of Rob’s career, but there is an important lesson to be taken away; limitations are a great way to stay creative. Working with a small budget is not easy which means you have to find creative ways in order to make something great.

The other good thing about low budget films is that the risk is much smaller. When you’re producing a $200 million dollar movie it better be great to make the money back and then some but if you budget is only $20,000 there is less to worry about when the film doesn’t succeed in the box office.

Ben Chestnut – Do What You Love

Ben Chestnut is the CEO of MailChimp, a company we all know and love. In this Creative Morning talk, he explains how he encourages his design and development teams to work on things just to get their creative juices following. And by work on things he means things that are not directly related to MailChimp.

It’s proven successful for their team to work on small projects that their employees have their mind wrapped around; most importantly, it’s proven helpful in their day to day creative work for Mailchimp.

Freakonomics – How to Think Like a Child

Originally, Freakonomics was a book written by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt and is now a vast website filled with an interesting take on economical questions. In their third book, Think Like a Freak, Dubner and Levitt go over various ways in how to think differently. How to Think Like a Child, is a podcast episode based on a chapter from their book.

In it, they go over how children do in fact see the world differently because they haven’t been yet nurtured to think carefully and critically like an adult – which often time backfires on us. Instead, a child will ask a bunch of weird questions to figure out how the world works without any implications or fear of repercussion.

David Kelley – How to Build Your Creative Confidence

David Kelley explains how there is no difference between creatives and non-creatives. It’s a bucket we put ourselves into as we grow up. It’s unfortunate, really, but thanks to studies done by Albert Bandura we can use self-efficacy and mastered guidance into coming out of our shells. No one should ever describe themselves as not being the creative type; Kelly believes that everyone is born creative therefore it’s possible to get over the fear of creative thinking the same way we can get rid of the fear of snakes.

Liberating from our fears is wonderful and it gets us a new wave of confidence in our lives as if anything is possible.

Stefan Sagmeister – Don’t Take Creativity For Granted

Over time we all get used to things, unfortunately, this means we are bound to take things for granted. When one of those things is creativity, we are bound to suffer. Whether you’re a designer, a developer or even a marketer, we all make amazing things and it’s ridiculous of a thought that we would ever get used to it.

Stefan shows us a few of his creative film while telling an interesting story about how his team combated having taken creativity for granted. The moral of the story is to enjoy creating whatever it is you’re making and embrace it while you’re at it.


So there you have it a short list of amazing design talks to help you stay a sharp and amazing creative. I hope you’ll enjoy these as much as I have. And if you have your own suggestion, post the links in the comments!



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