Home > Events > First SketchCamp Des Moines draws eclectic crowd

First SketchCamp Des Moines draws eclectic crowd

Organizer Amanda Morrow leads a group brainstorming session Saturday afternoon during SketchCamp Des Moines.

Summer may be over, but on Saturday in Des Moines camp was still very much in session.

About 60 participants came together Saturday at StartupCity Des Moines for the inaugural SketchCamp Des Moines.

The all-day event featured 12 speakers, many of whom focused on the benefits of sketching as a way to communicate complex strategies or ideas to a group.

“It’s kind of cool because it’s something that everyone does,” said Amanda Morrow, an interactive designer at BitMethod and an organizer of SketchCamp Des Moines. “Whether you’re a designer, a programmer, a fashion designer or a carpenter, all of us find ways of sketching out what we’ll be working on, and I think we can probably understand more why we sketch and how we can use sketching as a tool.”

The Des Moines incarnation of SketchCamp came about after Morrow attended similar events in Chicago and Milwaukee and a Mini SketchCamp, held in January, drew a crowd of more than 40 interested sketchers.

“There’s not a lot of events around here that allow you to do this,” Morrow said. “It’s either very specific industries or it’s more of how to draw, rather than just starting sketching something.”

Morrow is the organizer of Design+Tech, the group that worked to forge a partnership with AIGA Iowa to host SketchCamp Des Moines as part of the AIGA’s fourth annual Design Month.

Each participant was given a SketchCamp sketchpad and participated in brainstorming exercises – like sketching a comic strip of yourself as a super hero – throughout the day. The difference between drawing and sketching was an especially important distinction for SketchCamp organizers.

Presenter Kathryn Downing held a breakout session titled “Sketching for the Intimidated,” which focused on removing the stigma that is oftentimes associated with drawing and sketching.

“Everyone can draw,” Downing said. “The only thing that stops you from drawing is you feel judged.”

Downing, who works as a graphic designer at Aviva, also discussed the importance of sketching when working under an existing brand or within corporate guidelines.

Cat Rocketship sketches for a group of participants during a breakout session at the inaugural SketchCamp Des Moines.

The event drew participants from a wide range of professions, from entrepreneurs and web developers to graphic designers. While some were instinctive sketchers, a number of participants were new to sketching.

“Sometimes I struggle bringing complex financial solutions to individuals in a way that’s easily understandable to my clients,” said Brad Bach, an attendee who works as a financial services representative at The Principal Financial Group.

The event featured keynote speakers Brian Sauer of Saturday MFG and Nik Wilets, a designer and developer for Voce Connect. Sauer stressed the importance of refining an initial sketch and collaborating with partners while Wilets shared how he has come to embrace sketching in his creative process.

Jeremy Harrington, vice president of user experience at Voce Communications, spoke with SketchCamp Des Moines participants about the importance of sketching in a technology-focused world.

“Talk about sketching and being able to capture ideas and explore those is a really popular theme right now,” Harrington said. “I think it’s something everyone is continuously looking for, whether that’s an exec looking for someone to capture their idea so they can translate it to others, or someone lower down on the chain who has great ideas and wants to find a way to convey those to other people.”

Although Morrow said she would have liked to see more of the Des Moines tech crowd in attendance, both Morrow and Harrington agreed that simply initiating discussion between technology and design was a start.

“Just having these folks in the same room is really important,” Harrington said.


Credits: Photos by Megan Bannister. 

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