Agatha Tutia
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Squares 2017: Lessons Learned

Squares 2017 is over! Four days of stuffing swag bags, organizing badges alphabetically, greeting attendees, setting up decorations and games, checking IDs, and packing up are done. Gone are the late night runs to Torchy's and Whataburger, the workplace gender inequality conversation with the ladies of Delaney Vineyard, the surprise look on two speakers' faces when a group asked to take a picture with me (for a free shirt) as if I was famous and they didn't know, and of course, all the giggles and jokes with the Circles team.

Another Squares Conference down for the books. And plenty of lessons and mental to-do's to tackle in the meantime. If I want to be the best designer ever, gotta start somewhere.

ONE // Work on the Design System for my Passion Project: MugMe

What was supposed to be maybe a quick month-long assignment is now a developing and continuous beast of a project spanning seasons. After attending Kelly Harrop's workshop and Anne Grundhoefer's talk, there's a lot of documenting, organizing, designing, and eventually, coding to do. Here we go.

TWO // Design is NOT Art

While I didn't attend this talk, Jeremy Abbott, an UX designer from Austin, brought it up to me right before lunch, and I'm so glad he did! This is the exact reason why I struggled with solely a graphic design career. I craved a challenge. I yearned for an analytical process, a puzzle to piece together, a code to crack. User Experience Design answered that call to the letter, and prior interactions with the field has only confirmed my abilities to solve problems creatively with design.

THREE // Say Hi!

You're at a conference, not live streaming from your couch. Get uncomfortable, break the awkward, and say hi to a fellow attendee. And then become best friends and share breakfast tacos. Or not. Either way, you're socializing and taking names. In fact, I wrote an entire post dedicated to the matter.

FOUR // There's Always Room for Improvement and New Skills

Okay, so I know some CSS. But not like Una Kravetz. Not like that like at all. Homegirl is a freaking CSS genius. And I felt so provincial. I should know how to use freaking blend modes, right?! HAHHAHA. Dead. Her demo was super humbling and awesome, and I'm reinvigorated to expand my repertoire on CSS and accept that I'm a mere mortal striving for Una-like mastery. Being a beginner is okay as long as I make strides to level up.

FIVE // Fake It 'Till You Make It

About 20% of my conversation were fabricated. Compared to last year's 99%, I'd say that's really darn good. Obviously as a novice to this industry, I lack gravitas in certain topics, but that doesn't keep me from smiling, nodding, and sprinkling in an improvised insight to the conversation. Exude confidence and then google later.

Final Thoughts

Of course, a huge thank you to Ismael Burciaga, Hannah Lewis, Anne Dapore, Kyle Russelburg, and everyone else for planning and executing Squares 2017. Without them, I wouldn't know how to improve myself and be a better designer. Excited for Circles and Frames this September, let's get creative.