This year was the first time that I got to travel somewhere for work that wasn’t the local Kinko’s or a nearby client’s office. I got to go to the annual National Urban League (NUL) conference in New Orleans—the one for which we at Untuck designed all of the collateral. Reflecting back on the experience now that I’ve returned, I can honestly say that my trip to New Orleans was a little bit like doing all the work that led up to the conference: overwhelming, exciting, and a whirlwind.
I had never before worked on a project that was even remotely close to the NUL conference in scope and size. I know there were times when I would fire up my email in the morning and subsequently look like a deer in headlights at all of the work that needed to be done. At the same time, it was really exciting to be doing work that thousands of people would see—and appreciate. (In a previous job, I designed credit card direct mail that thousands of people would see—and then probably throw away). This was a big step up for me; it was the closest I’ve ever been to design celebrity. The excitement and workload together made the last six weeks before the conference seem to pass by in the blink of an eye. It certainly made me appreciate and admire that John and Amy had been doing this on their own for the last few years.
I’m sure you know if you’ve been there (or can imagine if you haven’t) how NOLA can be kind of an overwhelming place. Places to visit! Bizarre and wonderful new foods to try! Amazingly friendly people to chat with! I must do it all! Imagine, then, getting to see President Obama’s keynote speech immediately after dropping your bags and taking thirty seconds to freshen up at the hotel. That was both totally exciting and totally crazy. One thing that made it even more surreal was recognizing the conference speakers in the crowd of attendees and knowing their names based solely on the amount of time I spent resizing their head shots for the conference website and the program guide. OK, I know that sounds a bit creepy, but it was kind of a fun game to play, as long as no one else overheard me. Someday I hope to reclaim the space that the head shots and names took up in my memory. In addition to seeing the President speak and attending a round table discussion on voter ID laws, we crammed in as much else as we could in the less-than-48 hours we were in New Orleans: ate fried alligator, walked down Bourbon Street, got Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s, saw the French Quarter, and enjoyed beignets at Cafe du Monde.
I suppose you could say that our skills at maximizing our time efficiency when designing translated very well to sightseeing and enjoying being tourists on a very short business trip. It’s good to know that the talents we use at work can also come in handy while having fun.