I Went to Alt! (And Caught the Plague)


PHOTO: Alt Summit

Alt 2013. It happened.

No doubt by now you’ve already read countless posts from other bloggers speaking about everything they learned, how awesome the other bloggers are, and how inspired they left. And you know what? It’s all true. This year marked my fourth year attending and speaking at Altitude Design Summit (affectionately Alt) and I’m still not tired of the feelings I leave with every January. It’s basically impossible to not bond with these people who are on your wavelength, who get your obsession with analytics and tolerate you anyway.



PHOTO: Alt Summit

Most attendees arrived in Salt Lake City sometime Wednesday. Past years I’ve had punishing early morning flights, but this time around lucked out and didn’t even have to depart Oklahoma City until after one o’clock. I had a lovely traveling partner in Rachel Shingleton of Pencil Shavings fame, and we arrived in SLC shortly before everyone started heading off to their Wednesday evening sponsored dinners.

I has signed up for a lovely meal with Joss & Main, a members-only site that curates 3-day long shopping events, at Sapa Sushi Bar & Grill. I ended up having such a great time and so many quality conversations that I forgot to snap even one photo! That has to be a record.



Thursday morning’s sessions started bright and early at 9am, and in the main hallway I immediately noticed what was one of my favorite new additions to Alt this year – three sheet metal boards ripe with magnets for showing off business cards! Business cards are the equivalent of gold at this conference, and the boards were the perfect way to showcase everyone’s creativity and long hours. They also unintentionally gave me recognition of someone before ever meeting them face to face. I can’t recall how many times I exchanged cards with someone only to say how I’d hoped I would meet them after spotting their card first.



PHOTO: Alt Summit

Thursday night brought with it the much anticipated Clue party. We had all been instructed to dress in the color of Mrs. White, Miss Scarlet, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, Mrs. Peacock, or Mr. Green. I thought for sure one color would be dominant but nope, the room was a rainbow of vibrant color! All of the board game’s rooms were represented, sectioned off and identified in the classic Clue font and projected in light from the ceiling amidst the apropos furniture setting.



I loved all of the little touches that went into the planning, from the huge array of colored flower arrangements to the artistic takes on each weapon, to the colored lights in the rear of the room! (This is obviously the end of the night, these tables were packed!)



This is the lone good photo of me from the entire conference – as Miss Scarlet! – because the next morning I woke up with a raw throat and aching ears. I’d been sick for most of January and traveling lots, so I don’t know why I was surprised. But I was. Guess I should have taken more note of all the hand sanitizer being handed out and not put that plastic bear mask on in the Bing photobooth. But speaking of Bing



PHOTO: Alt Summit

… they had a great footprint on the entirety of Alt, in a very genuine way. Their support of creativity and voice were palpable, starting with the amazing lounge they put together around projects nominated by the attendees. (And from what I hear, people ended up winning and taking each one home!)

Land of Nod also threw one heck of a tea party, complete with a full-size plastic swan boat (you can see a photo of me and my roommate, Jaime Derringer of Design Milk, canoodling in it on Instagram!) and plenty of polka dots and stripes.

Three cheers for Bing, Land of Nod, and all the sponsors of Alt for helping it reach its full potential!



PHOTO: Alt Summit

We had the opportunity to see three fantastic keynotes, one Thursday and two Friday. First up was Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and former longtime editor-in-chief of Wired magazine. To be honest Chris’s talk was a little over my head, but I’m looking forward to reading the copy of his book – Makers: The New Industrial Revolution – we were all gifted at lunch.

Friday’s lunch keynote resonated most, no doubt because it was one of my long-standing graphic design crushes – Stefan Sagmeister of Sagmeister & Walsh. His talk focused on the exploration of happiness through his projects The Happy Film (which finally has backing) and The Happy Show. We had the chance to preview twelve blissful moments of the movie, which will be at film shows this coming year. Needless to say, totally amazing.

The closing keynote was the lovely Katie Sokolov of Color Me Katie and street art fame. I have to confess that I didn’t make it to this one, cold meds had me taking a short nap in my room instead. But this is what I missed out on…



PHOTO: Alt Summit

So yeah, disappointed doesn’t even begin to cover it.



PHOTO: Alt Summit

Friday evening brought with it the much loved Mini Parties! Each sponsored room has its own distinctive decor and vibe, I think my favorite was Go Mighty‘s valentine-themed crush party with plenty of red, balloons, and candy. I also had a great time visiting with Better Homes and Gardens and Hayneedle!




PHOTOS: Alt Summit

Oh, the trends! Alt wouldn’t be Alt if the ladies (and handful of gents) didn’t bring their A-game. I was excited to see the latest (colored denim, mixed patterns, fascinators) and the reliables (topknots, big glasses, totes).




PHOTOS: Alt Summit

Some sights became old hat by the end of the conference – water to fight dehydration, Sagmeister kissing everyone in photos, and killer calligraphy to name a few.


Alt13-BusCards-1-Design Crush

Every year the business cards get better and more outrageous. This year was no exception with trends like thick cotton letterpress, blind embossing, and colored edges making their mark.

La La Lovely // South Holly Road // A Blog About Love // Artifact Uprising // Emily McDowell // The Artful Desperado // Citizens of Humanity // Design Milk // House of Earnest // Creature Comforts // Grassroots Modern // The Cuisinerd // Pinegate Road // Hitch Design Studio // Cloth & Kind // Leslie Fandrich // Meg Biram // Paper & Stitch


Alt13-BusCards-2-Design Crush

It seems like this year more than ever people were above and way beyond with their cards, some were flat out gifts. Prints, notecards, calendars – even a hamburger yoyo and wooden corgi pin!

The Proper Pinwheel // Melissa Esplin // Engaged & Inspired // The Cuisinerd // The Ravenna Girls // Donuts, Dresses and Dirt // The Paper Mama // Twig Creative // Shauna Younge


If you couldn’t make it to the conference you should definitely look into it for 2014! In the meantime, here are a few links to reviews of some of the panels. I’ll continue to update the list as new ones come out!



Up and Coming Blogs
How to Craft for a Living
Organizing Social Media + Advanced Blogging
Collaborating with Sponsors + Earning Revenue
Planning Offline Events
Advanced Blogging Skills
Getting Past Zero
Building a Killer Portfolio
Personal Branding
How to Organize Your Online Life
Being a Contributor
Stefan Sagmeister’s Keynote

  • Lisa // Elembee

    February 4, 2013 at 11:25 am Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing my link! Sad we didn’t get to meet, but hopefully I can drive over to OKC for a blogger meetup soon. Hilarious that I met more OK bloggers at Alt than I have since I moved to Tulsa in May!

    And I would just like to state, for the record, that I’ve been sporting black-rim glasses for 12 years now. Hooray for being ahead of the trend!

  • Emily @ Peck Life

    February 4, 2013 at 1:37 pm Reply

    It was great to run into your at the end of Alt! So sorry you got sick…I think that happened to a lot of people. It was my very first Alt and I’m so glad I went!!!

  • Lexy | The Proper Pinwheel

    February 4, 2013 at 4:35 pm Reply

    Kelly! Thanks so much for the link love, my dear! I love that Sagmeister kissed everyone he said hello to. So great!

    I’m sad to hear you were sick during! I am sick NOW, but was just tired and an emotional wreck at Alt. That’s all. 🙂

    Glad we got to chat for a sec!

  • Krista

    February 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm Reply

    Kelly – This is the recap to end all recaps! Great post.

    It was so nice to meet you in the flesh, albeit briefly, and thank you – most sincerely – for choosing my card to showcase here.

  • Emma

    February 4, 2013 at 9:34 pm Reply

    One day I will fly to the states to go to this!

  • brianne

    February 4, 2013 at 11:11 pm Reply

    I’m so glad we got a chance to say hello, albeit briefly. Here’s to feeling better! Thanks for the link love, too.

  • joanna

    February 5, 2013 at 12:31 am Reply

    such an awesome recap of a great event. i TOTALLY need to go next time!

  • sheri

    February 5, 2013 at 7:01 am Reply

    Thank you so much for featuring my card! It was great meeting you at Alt; I’m a fan of your blog!

  • Monica Lee

    February 5, 2013 at 9:53 am Reply

    Love this recap! Stefan kissed everyone, didn’t he…wonder if he caught the plague too?

  • Michelle

    February 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm Reply

    This is my favorite Alt summary yet; so detailed and spot on. Thanks for including our business cards, it was a highlight meeting you.

  • Patti

    February 7, 2013 at 4:20 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for sharing my link in the panel reviews! Wish I could have met you, but glad I got to hear you speak on the social media panel : )

  • Wendy Townley

    February 7, 2013 at 5:28 pm Reply

    Kelly, what a delight to hear you speak at Alt Summit last month! Your insight and advice were helpful … especially when using Pinterest to promote my own work! You’re an absolute peach. Best wishes for 2013.

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