5 articles Articles posted in Events

Circles 2013


Last week was Circles Conference 2013, and just like last year, I left feeling charged, full, and energized for the creative journey ahead. My favorite talk, and most applicable right now, was Ben Jenkins from One Fast Buffalo. Six years ago he traded his overdone life for the bare essentials life of living in an RV. Kent and I got talk to him at the speakers dinner and pick his brain. The main takeaway from our conversation, was, “it’s all about togetherness.” We are 12 days into our journey on the road and that is for sure what I’m seeing. But, more about that later.

He talked about what is essential in life and what is not – and for our journey of simplicity right now, it resonated in a big way. I’m totally stealing this from his talk, but here it is.



The way he sees it there are 24 hours in a day – 8 hours for work – 8 for play – and 8 for sleeping. His best work is done in solitude and he believes that every artist needs solitude  plus participation (exploring, interacting with people, etc) for the best work to come. There definitely was a common theme through a lot of the talks about creating more with love and integrity and simplifying so you can experience more and focus on relationships. Lotta Nieminen talked about this when she realized she felt more like a factory than a designer, and she was just crossing projects off the list, not doing them with love.

Too tired and too busy is very American. Slow down. Slow is better. -Ben Jenkins

I also got to meet a designer I admire very much, Megan Gilger. Her talk was wonderful and her slides were just delicious. I love everything she creates, right down to the life that her and her husband lives.


Photo from my Instagram feed

It was so fun to be with other creatives, but not just creatives who are ambitious and talented, but Circles attracts a very special crowd that seems to want more from creativity than just big name clients, money or building a big name. It might sound cliche, but there is definitely a commonality in wanting to use art and creativity for good and to bring change in the world. That is what I love about this conference. I walked away with a lot to process and a lot to build upon.

Circles Conference – Pt. 2

I wanted to post the notes from my conference talk for you. Wow, it was such a huge privilege to be able to share some of things I’ve learned in my own personal journey. If you want, you could also listen to the audio from all the conference sessions, including my own. But with this route, you get to see the slides I created and included in the talk as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts about these points in the comments, and get a discussion going.

Read the full notes and see the slides >>


The best thing about the conference for me was how intimate it felt. There was a commonality, a feeling of, “these are my people, and they get me.” New relationships were forged with ease, and it was great feeling like we were all there for a unified purpose. I wanted to post a few highlights from the talks I took the most notes from – hopefully you will be able to take away a nugget or two.

Kyle Steed

The work you do does not define who you are.
Talking about God is easy, having faith is hard.
Simplicity is the secret to seeing things clearly (Oswald Chambers). Don’t over think it.

Josh Blankenship

Designers/artists, you may as well know magic. Because most people don’t understand how we do what we do. Everything you don’t understand is magic. (Tim Berners Lee) Most magic has humble beginnings. Accept it, you are a wizard – that doesn’t make you special, it makes you necessary. We who know “magic” can help others who don’t. We get used to our own skills – to where it doesn’t seem magical anymore. If you don’t use your talents for anyone other than yourself, than the magic stops with you. Don’t complain about what you permit. What you build will have ripple effects not just in your world, but the world as a whole. You are building the world you are going to live in. What does the world need to look like? What good is magic if you don’t go on a quest?

Promise Tangeman

Cultivate thankfulness. Encourage others. Think of 5 people you can encourage today. Identify your strengths. Knowing who you are is key to filling yourself again. What makes you come alive? What are you passionate about? You can be passionate about a lot of things, but what are you most confident in? Find your rhythm so you don’t get stuck in cycles and ruts. Let your work simmer in the subconscious mind first before you tackle it. What can you adjust to create more efficient work flow?

Dan Mall

Design doesn’t tell the whole story. Your goal as a manager is to get your hires to their next job. All clients are created equal. But some clients are more equal than others. The client is your partner, part of your team, not an extension of your team. Big sites need smarter work not more work. Explore the genius of the tinker – find the adjacent possible (the connection in things). Create empathy, put yourself in your clients shoes.

Blaine Hogan

You are not a tool, you are a human. Tools cannot make beauty. Machines and tools break and fall apart. The world is not yet done. Relax + breathe (Sabbath principle). We are crazy and we don’t think God is real so we work our asses off. Embrace obstacles. Computers only give answers. Humans ask questions. It will never be easy work – The ground is cursed.  I want to love so well that evil wants to destroy me. We don’t always know how to increase our heart (Prov. 4:23) but we know how to lop off our limbs (self-sabotage). What are you doing now that is breaking your heart? Good design means you love people. When you put love into it, you make the best work. Don’t make work that functions out of mere utility. What am I really making? Am I loving well? Our work will be better if we can figure out how to be better humans. Good artists know themselves.


Circles Conference – Pt. 1

Circles Conference was amazing. Three total days packed with meeting new people, listening to inspiring talks from artists I’ve long admired, and soaking up some much needed independence. Ismael Burciaga (the event coordinator) has been an online friend for a few years now, but I was totally blown away by him as a person – completely selfless and generous, an amazing host.

Sketched talk notes by Sean Wes

While on my trip, I made it a point to talk to everyone I sat by – at the airport, on the plane, on the shuttle, wherever. This is something I don’t always get to do when my kids are around, because I’m so engrossed with watching them, but it’s become one of my favorite things to do. Remember that rule your mom told you when you were little, “Don’t talk to strangers?” Well, it doesn’t apply anymore. So I met lots of new people en route to Dallas, TX, and had interesting conversations. As I shared in my conference talk, meeting new people helps you discover who you are, having new experiences strengthens your art. This was the case for me.

  • I met Abee, a hard-working Ethiopian who drives a shuttle to put food on the table for his two kids.
  • Vladimir, a young Russian valet who dropped his gambling addiction when he started a family.
  • Gary, a bored gentleman who travels to Florida every two weeks to check on his vacation home while his busy Dr. Wife works – but I don’t think he was telling me the whole story.
  • And two lovely ladies who had me laughing so hard I was crying during my late night wait at the airport to return home.

Many of the speakers told their personal stories. I met so many people at the conference that shared their story. And I shared mine. I talked about my belief in story with a new friend named Ryan Rushing at lunch.

All that said to say, I think I am coming to believe more and more in story. I don’t think life in any way is a story about any of us, by any means. But I do believe that a story can inspire, relate to, and transform other people’s stories.

The very last talk was by Cameron Moll, sort of a web design hero of mine. But he spoke mainly about his work with charity : water. Getting to travel with Scott Harrison to build wells in Ethiopia, seeing first hand the impact made on foreign soil. He showed photos of little children that had never seen their image frozen on the screen of a camera before, and another photo of a house made of rocks that the villagers had unearthed from the ground.

That’s when it hit me.

Being an artist is a privilege. It’s not just a privilege it’s a luxury. As artists, we are given this unique ability and means to shape culture, to be creative in meeting the needs of the world. To do something beautiful and meaningful with it. That was the big takeaway for me – I left feeling inspired, and not just that – ready to take action.

After Cameron’s talk, Dan Mall had an interesting question. That we all know that a non-profit like charity : water is important – one that is a matter of life and death – but what of all the other causes? What about causes that aren’t a matter of life and death?

In retrospect, I think other causes are just as important as preventing unnecessary/unjust death. Because there are so many people that are “living,” but haven’t learned to really “live.” Their story is one of heartbreak, loss, loneliness, or pain. But we as artists, and especially as Christians, have this interesting opportunity to teach and show people how they can really live. It’s building Life on life. It’s showing people the potential in their story, and pointing them to the ultimate Story that weaves us all together.

(more to come)

Check out some other great write-ups on the conference: Kevin / Sean / Dan / Emily

Once Upon a Time at Anthropologie

So last month I got to work at Anthropologie for a couple days. A new store was opening in January here in Oklahoma City and a friend of mine was hired as a manager. Boy did I feel lucky when she asked me to help prep the store for their grand opening! I hung up my mommy hat and donned my dusty work hat. It was so exciting see the store unfold and become what we all know Anthropologie stores to be – a treasure trove of inspiration, beauty and retail perfection.

I got to work on one of the art displays, my own personal favorite attribute of Anthro. They had people from all over the country working to help get the store to standard. One of the gals painted this giant mural of an Oklahoma landscape and then we cut it up and put them inside these old canvas frames. It was so much fun being a part. I also steamed ALOT of pretty dresses.

It was also awesome to see a local artist there, creating one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and displays for the environment onsite. Jerrod made the coffee table you see above (borrowed from his instagram).

Belt courtesy of forthemakers.com

This was what I wore to the opening party I got to attend with a girlfriend. Don’t tell, but none of it was from Anthro! I was also sporting a sassy new haircut – my friend Erin says it makes me look like Roxie Hart. (Thanks Erin!)

We ended up doing more chatting and eating the yummy hors d’oeuvres from Deep Fork than shopping, but it was still a great time oohing and aahing over things we couldn’t afford to buy. Ultimately it was a great opportunity to do something special and different, but it really made me appreciate my role as a mom so much more. I don’t think I would cut it in the retail industry! Now, if I could help with the store displays, THAT would be another story. :)

Okie Blogger Night Out

Oklahoma has some pretty cool bloggers. Last fall one of them decided to start getting them all together at one event, and three meetups later, the event has grown into a pretty awesome thing.

This time it was served up at The Makeup Bar, and the hostesses there were so generous and accommodating.  I got to go with a new friend of mine, Elle who writes Memories of a Wannabe Gypsy – she has a wonderful blog, and such an inspiring spirit – love her!

I got a free brow wax and smokey eye makeup done by Kim, who was so sweet and made me feel pretty glamorous and pampered!  There was a mixologist from Deep Fork Grill serving up some great drinks. I tried the peach belini, and she even took the time to show me how to make it – too bad my mommy brain doesn’t remember. Not only that, they had some yummy food for us to enjoy and the cutest little cupcakes from Green Goodies.

I got to meet my favorite mommy blogger, Emery – she’s a fantastic and witty writer and everything she writes about I just nod in agreement, yes, yes, YES! My friends, Erin and Rachel were there from Pippin & Pearl and Pencil Shavings, both great ladies and wonderful artists. Also, Kelly Beall from Design Crush who is an AWESOME blogger – you may remember that I met her at a charity project a while back. Kathleen was there too, whom I met at the last meetup, and we were in awe over her tallness and our shortness. Ha! It was fun meeting new people too, although I didn’t get to meet everyone – maybe next time! Thanks everyone for such a wonderful event!

If you want to check out some okie bloggers for yourself, here is a list of everyone who was there:

Danielle from www.elleinadspir.com // Susan from www.workingcloset.com // Shana from www.gorillabuns.typepad.com // Melissa from www.pineapplelilyblog.com // Alison from www.shopcrawlr.com // Caroline from www.iamagreedygirl.com // Allison from www.feedingmytemple.com // Allyson from www.allysoninwonderland.com // Brigette from www.settlingwest.com // Sally from www.sallyspins.com // Rita from www.meandmyshortloffs.blogspot.com // Brandy from www.bellavitajewelry.blogspot.com // Stephanie from www.stephaniebice.com // Marek from www.mareksmusings.com // Anna from www.andeverythingniceblog.com // Melissa from www.sassafrass2point0.blogspot.com // Rachael from www.rachaelreally.com // Nikki from www.bradleybirth.com // Kara Kae from www.themomdiggity.com // Laura from www.steenstyle.com // Whitney from www.whitneykolb.com // Katie from  www.dishinanddishes.com

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All photos by Rex Barrett of Glass Eye Studios. To see more, go here.