Circles Conference 2015: Recap

Date: Sept. 30, 2015 By: Brittany Wong , Alex Wright , Ian Banks , Lindsay Holmes Topic: Conferences

Earlier this month, the Five Q creative team had the privilege of heading down to Texas to attend Circles Conference, a conference that leaves creatives inspired and filled to the brim with ideas and motivation. This is the 3rd year our team has attended this conference, either in person or via live stream, and they have found it beneficial each time. Read on to hear about their individual experiences and take-aways.


Front End Developer: Alex Wright

Being a front-end developer, a design conference like Circles may seem like a strange choice. Why not go to a fancy CSS conference? Or better yet, a conference on javascript! Sure, a conference bent toward front-end developers may be more applicable, but Circles is so much more than just a design conference. There are designers, photographers, artists, illustrators, product designers, back-end developers, product developers, and ux designers. Circles is a melting pot of creative genius with a passion for making the world better.


This was my second trip to Grapevine, Texas to be a part of Circles. I knew what to expect from 2013. What was I looking to get out of the conference this year? In addition to being a front-end developer working for an all-distributed company, I’m also a huge extrovert :) I love to meet new people! There were two main goals I was looking to accomplish at Circles:

1. Connect with and meet at least 25 new people.

2. Apply inspiration to my role as a remote worker.


Well, I met and connected with at least 50 people! As for my second goal? Crushed.


There were so many wonderful speakers this year- all of whom eloquently and engagingly spoke on their respective topics. Though they were all fantastic, a few stood out to me as most applicable to my abilities / career / life. Those speakers were Shawn Blanc and Larry Hubatka. Shawn’s talk was about fighting to stay creative, removing fear as an obstacle, and instead, embracing it as a milestone to affirm us in our decisions. Larry spoke about things that kill a culture and how to avoid them. The word culture refers to not just a work culture, but also the culture within a home.


What does it mean for me as a remote, front-end developer? Well, being remote, loss of focus, isolation, and complacency are real enemies. Without a passion and desire to do my best creative work, how can I serve our ministry partners with excellence? If I’m not doing my part in making the remote culture of Five Q the best it can be, how can we thrive as a company? Thankfully, I don’t have to rely on myself as the sole source of inspiration. Another speaker, Jeremy Cowart, said it best, many times throughout his talk.


“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!"


I simply remember why it is I do what I do. I exist to serve God, to multiply His kingdom, and to serve others. At Five Q, it’s not much different. In fact, it’s exactly the same.


Graphic Designer: Brittany Wong

I've participated Circles conference twice before. So I went into Circles 2015 with the same level of expectation for my post-conference inspiration high. But a weird thing happened. I left still feeling inspired, but inspired in a different way, a more controlled way. In years past I'd allow myself to be seduced by polished portfolios, but this year I was honed on what I wanted. I noted paper weights, printing techniques, processes, etc. I absorbed specific things in areas that I have been interested in growing in.

Perhaps ultimately my biggest takeaway from this year's Circles Conference was that passion is everything. Whether is was hearing Jeremy Cowart performing a spoken work piece to a video of his portfolio, or seeing... I was constantly reminded that passion is what fuels the creative. Don't allow work to get boring. Passion Projects (the buzz phrase of this year's conference) can become huge money makers. Tied to passion is fear, which was a topic of discussion in nearly every speaker's presentation. They each spoke very candidly about their fears, which reminded me that I'm not alone in my fear of failure. But even when the fear seems crippling, it cannot be what drives us, but instead we must be driven by passion free of fear.

So yes, I left inspired. Not just visually inspired, but emotionally inspired. My soul feels stronger. If you are in need of a jolt to your heart, an injection of holistic inspiration to your life and career, I'd highly recommend Circles Conference. The swag is awesome, the community is human, and the content is on point. I promise you won't regret it.


Student Designer: Lindsay Holmes

As a novice (or dabbler, for now) in graphic design, I was somewhat nervous, but as excited as a kid on Christmas morning, to be surrounded by amazing creatives at Circles 2015! Shy as I am, it took me until the second day to start introducing myself to people without the help of my teammates to start conversations that I could just jump into. The creatives I met have amazing skill, and I discovered new techniques and ideas, and new inspiration to pick up my creativity at home again.


One of the themes I took my inspiration from was willingness to take risks, using my fear of rejection, or of not being “good enough” as motivation to build my skills, and put my ideas on paper. Seeing what these designers and artists did, by taking huge risks (some even left cushy jobs!), and working hard through nights and weekends, made me realize the commitment it takes to make money at doing what you love. Another theme I took to heart was, literally, to do what you love. Many of the artists who spoke were doing their “passion projects,” work they wanted to do for fun and for themselves. And those passion projects are what put them on the map in one way or another. I basically learned that I need to step out, commit to something, and be fearless. I went home completely inspired to learn more and to start on a project of my own. I feel like I’m ready to tackle the work that comes my way through my job, with new vigor, and can’t wait to get started on my home projects too.