7 Lessons from Dribbble’s Hang Time Design Conference

Emma Linh
6 min readAug 6, 2019

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Since the start of my career, I’ve made a goal to attend a design conference at least once a year. Bluewolf, where I was working at the time, had set aside a budget for education. So being the avid learner and resourceful person that I am, I set my eyes on the large events. They sent me to AIGA Design Conference and Brand New Conference.

This year, I took the leap from a full-time permanent role to contracting and freelancing with different companies. While it’s given me the opportunity to meet talented designers and expand my knowledge, I didn’t have flexible time off — except in December. One day, I saw an email from Dribbble promoting their upcoming design conference… in December! Despite the small scale of the conference, I noticed Paula Scher was one of the speakers and immediately signed up. So, I decided to make December my mini-sabbatical month — filled with inspiration and passion projects.

On a beautiful sunny day in downtown Los Angeles, my friend Eileen and I lined up outside the Ace Theater to get our conference badges. The Ace Theater is a jaw-droppingly gorgeous historic venue from the 1920s designed in the Spanish Gothic style. I couldn’t help but roll my head around to scan every single detail of the immense, ornate ceiling as I sat in a red velvet chair sipping my coffee. Then the lessons began.

The Ace Theater. Photo by John Hough.

1. Stop being an impostor, start being you.

Susan Kare is a prolific designer, well-known for her interface and type design in the original Macintosh. At the time, designing for digital was new territory. But when Apple approached her with the problem of designing in 8-bit, she welcomed the challenge. Her advice was to have confidence in your skill mix. She knew that with her background in the arts and tendency to iterate, there was no problem she couldn’t figure out.

Meg Lewis, too, is a joyful, quirky designer who has made a career out of embracing her unique set of skills. She echoed this lesson by illustrating a diagram that connects all the things she’s good at and enjoys. She encouraged us to do this exercise so we can…

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Emma Linh

Branding & Design — Portfolio: emmalinh.com — Blog: thedesignloupe.com — Social: @emmalinhstark