Creative Works Conference 2017 was powerful. Not just because of the speakers, but because of you. Your presence was electric, your passion was contagious, and it all made for an unforgettable 3 days. We hope you left feeling more connected, deeply inspired, and energized to create change.








The 2017 Creative Works Conference lineup featured dozens of influential design, branding, digital, and storytelling experts. Attendees spent three days immersed in inspiration, learning from this diverse group of renowned creatives. 


Ashley C. Ford

Senior Features Writer at Refinery29

Ken Barber

Chief Lettering Officer at House Industries

Gail Anderson

Creative Director at Visual Arts Press—School of Visual Arts

Erik Marinovich

Lettering Artist at Friends of Type

Naz Hamid

Product Design at VSCO

Jessi Arrington

Experiential Designer at Workshop

Greyson MacAlpine

Product Designer (formerly) at Ueno

Emily Westerhold

VP, Finance & Operations at VSCO

Nikkolas Smith

Theme Park Designer & Concept Artist at Walt Disney Imagineering

Jesse Bryan

Founding Partner, ECD at Belief Agency


Austin Dunbar

Founder at Durham Brand & Co.

Jenna Blazevich

Founder & Designer at Vichcraft Design Studio


Dan Cassaro

Partner at Young Jerks


Dan Christofferson

Partner at Young Jerks

Nate Utesch

Commercial Artist/Musician at Secretly Group/Metavari

Antionette D. Carroll

Founder & CEO at Creative Reaction Lab

Justin Mezzell

Designer & Illustrator

Rogie King

Designer, Illustrator & Developer

Amy Pastre

Partner at SDCO

Courtney Rowson

Partner at SDCO


Meg Lewis

Partner at Ghostly Ferns


Jen Mussari

Hand-Lettering Artist at Ghostly Ferns


Laura Bee

Illustrator at Ghostly Ferns

Odin E. Clack

Owner at Odin Leather Goods

Nick Sambrato

CEO at Mama's Sauce

Jordan Schiller

Director of Growth at Real Thread


Andy J. Miller

Illustrator, Podcaster & Speaker


Brian French

Prince of Paper at French Paper



Hands-on sessions

Workshop-goers went deep in these 3-hour, hands-on sessions led by top creatives from around the country. Workshops are open only to conference attendees and are limited to 40 people.


Fundamentals of iOS App Design

Greyson MacAlpine, Product Designer (formerly) at Uneo

Follow Greyson through an accelerated end-to-end mobile journey where you’ll get a firsthand look at her methodology and process for designing iOS apps. You’ll actively participate in research, wireframing, basic prototyping, and user interface design, all tailored specifically for the iOS platform.

Intro to Hand-Lettering

Ken Barber, Chief Lettering Officer at House Industries

Hand-drawn letterforms have the potential to do much more than communicate content — they can become the content itself. In this introductory workshop, participants will explore typographic models and learn simple-yet-effective exercises with legendary letterer Ken Barber. Ken will lead you through demonstrations and the practical foundations of hand-lettering so you can start generating one-of-a-kind work.

How to Write the Truth

Ashley C. Ford, Senior Features Writer at Refinery29

Learn to craft true stories without turning real people into heroes or villains. In her workshop, Ashley will use relatable examples and practical tools to teach you how to tell compelling stories that reflect humanity as it is.  You’ll learn how to use language to add flourish to your writing and participate in exercises to help you maintain truth in any story you tell.

The Brand Laboratory: How to Dissect, Study & Assemble a Brand

Amy Pastre + Courtney Rowson, Partners at SDCO

Amy and Courtney will walk through their approach for diving deep and getting to know your clients, their projects, and their audiences. They’ll dissect that information with you and share their formula for creating a unique vantage point in a cluttered market. You’ll then learn how to translate that vantage point into a compelling visual story in order to create a meaningful brand.


Dialogue & Action

Antionette Carroll, Founder & CEO at Creative Reaction Lab

What is the role of creativity in racial rights and social equity? Find out in Antoinette’s workshop as you learn how to use creative problem-solving tools to challenge inequities and tackle real-world, community-focused issues. Through scenario-based exercises, you’ll uncover how to use your creative talents to become a community engagement leader in your own city.

The Full-Stack Designer

Naz Hamid, Product Designer at VSCO

Join Naz to learn how to expand your design toolbox to include the full range of skills needed to take a digital project from concept to sketch to screen. He’ll cover a range of techniques, processes, and tools you can use to translate a brand’s identity and visual elements into a fully-formed product ready for customers.


Lettering As Composition

Erik Marinovich, Lettering Artist at Friends of Type

This workshop will explore the process of composing a well balanced lettering layout. Erik will walk through the principles of visual hierarchy, research, and the importance of style selection. Techniques and critiques will teach students how to refine sketches into completed work. Participants should come with a 5-7 word phrase to develop. All skill levels welcome, but knowledge of Illustrator and Photoshop is a plus.


Jesse Bryan, EDC at Belief Agency

What you believe drives your passion and inspires vision. And the same is true for brands. When you understand what a brand — and the team behind it — believes, you can communicate directly and effectively. Jesse will take you through his agency’s process of how to uncover that core belief and use it to design and develop a brand rooted in truth and conviction.

Good Times & Collaboration

Dan CassaroDan Christofferson + Nate Utesch

In this workshop partnership between Young Jerks and Ferocious Art & Fiction, participants will be divided into teams and provided with the bare-bones essentials needed to illustrate creative concepts under pressure. These exercises will help you distill ideas into words, words into images, and collaborate with others — all with the limited tools and time that encourage working with efficiency and confidence.

Workshops Presented by

The School of Advertising Art is a nationally recognized, award-winning graphic design college located in Kettering, Ohio.



& Vendors

The Creative Works Market brings designers, makers, manufacturers, and brands from all over the country to downtown Memphis. Add plenty of local vendors to the mix, and you've got more apparel, prints, pins, and goodies than you can handle. Open to the public on Friday and Saturday of the Conference.




We'd be crazy to try to pull something like this off by ourselves. Luckily, we have the help, love, and support of some incredible companies, groups, and organizations. A huge thank you goes out to everyone below for believing in this conference. Click around, and show them some love, too. Interested in supporting Creative Works? Drop us a note.


Creativity can solve problems that money and politics can’t.

Creativity can be a force for positive change in the world, and that makes you dangerous. It's why we're building an ecosystem in Memphis to grow and elevate our creative community. See how we're empowering creatives all year long →