Circles Conference 2012 – A Recap

Cozy. Authentic. Memorable.

On a whim, I decided to register for Circles Conference. I’d heard many good things about Circle Meetups, and the conference proved to be even more amazing than I expected.

The talks were real and the people genuine. The intimacy was something you don’t get at events like SXSW. It was great to see some good friends, meet many who were previously only twitter friends, as well as make plenty of wonderful new friends. Even though it was only a 2-day conference, I already felt close to the new people I’d just met. Leaving was like having to go home from camp when you were a kid.

While the conference is design-related, the talks weren’t as much about the design process as they were about the designer. The talks centered around personal experiences, purpose, helping others & making a difference, overcoming creative slumps, evaluating our shared humanistic qualities, and what’s behind the pixels in design.

What I liked about Circles Conference:

  • The relatively modest attendence created a cozy environment which made socializing and connecting very natural
  • The cost was relatively inexpensive
  • Excellent speakers. Nothing short of a stellar lineup
  • Awesome free stuff — custom stickers and notebooks, and a shirt design by Kyle Steed to top it off
  • The after party kept everyone together even in the later hours

My travel time was a relatively seemly 5-hour drive, one way. I know there were many who made much longer treks. Honestly, it would have been worth any distance. This was the first year for Circles Conference, and while a second event isn’t set in stone, I’m putting my money on this becoming an annual event. If you have the opportunity register, should a conference be held next year, I’d encourage you to jump at the chance. No doubt, many good things are being said about this year’s happenings, and I expect it to be to the point of selling out next time. (Update: Circles Conference 2013 did indeed become a reality.)

Other Circles Conference Writeups

Sketch Notes

I thought I might have some fun sketching some notes during the conference. What started out casual, turned into doing sketch notes for each of one of the speakers. This proved to be quite a crazy idea as breaks were extremely short which meant I had to finish each of the pieces in full, entirely during the talk times.

This put me a bit outside of my element. I’m usually very meticulous. All of my work is conceptualized and sketched out in pencil before precisely inked. With the sketch notes, there was no time for the pencil stage, and I had to scramble to keep up. The results are very raw and there were a few mistakes here and there, but I think it was a healthy challenge for myself. It forced me to keep my perfectionism at bay and crank out cohesive notes.

A few of the notes are shorter or smaller than others. Please don’t conclude that those talks were any less significant. Some of them were more visual, with many graphic and/or video slides that were quite compelling. Other talks simply yielded more tangible notes.

I’ve compiled all the notes into a single hi-resolution PDF. If you prefer to just view single notes at a time, the thumbnails below will link to individual JPGs.


Download All Sketch Notes (PDF) – 60.7MB





Feel free to follow me on Twitter for regular lettering and typography goodness:


Tags: , , , ,
By Sean McCabe

Short URL: