Create Upstate

Create Upstate

April 16+17, 2015 Syracuse, NY

Create Upstate?

Create Upstate is a two-day conference tailor-made for designers and makers of wonderful things in Upstate New York. It’s a celebration of design and draws together the communities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Saratoga, Binghamton, Ithaca, and the Hudson Valley.

Join Us


This year we’re shaking things up! On top of bringing in some of the most talented designers in Upstate NY, we’ve added a few speakers from the larger design community. Join us for a full day of Sessions on Friday, April 17th.

  • Registration

  • Welcome

  • Mitch Goldstein

    The Habit of Making

    What if the best way to become a better designer is to make things that are not design? This talk examines what I learned from a year of making for the sake of making, why sometimes making garbage is actually making gold, and how making work can become about a habit of creation.

  • Student Design Challenge Showcase

    What's this?

  • Break

  • Amanda Altman

    Mind My Own Business

    Throughout the 10+ years of being in business, the most common questions I get asked are these:

    1. How do you work with your husband? and…
    2. How did you decide to niche your business to just packaging and branding?

    Find the answers to these questions, listen to the antics from inside our family-owned studio and learn the pros and cons of both working with family and niching your business.

    **DISCLAIMER** This is solely the opinion of Amanda Altman from the life and business of Amanda Altman. Her opinions may not be shared by AIGA or other family-owned or niche design agencies.

  • Jason Pamental

    The Life of <p>
    Beautiful, Readable, Responsive Typography from the Inside Out

    Typographic design has been evolving and improving for centuries, but it’s only been in the past few years that we’ve been able to bring that design sensibility to the web in a meaningful way. We’ll look at design from the content out—starting with the smallest chunk of content: the paragraph. Even inside this smallest component, there is a whole world to explore: paragraph styles over time, link styles, heading relationships, pull quotes and more.

    We’ll explore the varying ways the lowly <p> has been designed in print—from the earliest printed works on through today—and look at how those styles can be implemented in clean, repeatable, reusable CSS that looks good and requires little-to-no manual intervention from your content editors. The best design for the web has to be in a system that can move, scale and adapt to any screen: from wearables to phones to laptops and beyond. Great typography is the most secure foundation, so it pays to get it right. Making sure that your design remains usable, fast, consistent and compelling as content changes and scales is critical to its success.

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—and every great story starts with a single <p>.

  • Lunch

  • Lena Levine

    What To Do When It's Your Turn

    During her journey of conquering America, Lena, Russian native, has been provided with opportunity to start her life on a blank page when she moved to the US five years ago. The freedom to connect, to choose and to do what matters for her has come with high-stakes and increased risks of failure.

    Instead of seeing it as a problem, Lena turned it into opportunity to face her fears. She founded a chapter of a non-profit, Girl Develop It that teaches women how to code and started her own design studio in Buffalo, NY.

    Now it's your turn to stand out. To create. To be you.

  • Dora Drimalas

    Anatomy of a Maker

    For the last two years, Hybrid Design has been curating, editing, and designing the Mohawk Maker Quarterly. During this time we've encountered some spectacular and incredibly inspiring makers and explored the many overlapping qualities that make them who they are. This experience led to the discovery of five distinct cultural drivers that span disciplines and demographics to make up the heart and soul of the maker community.

    Dora discusses these five distinguishing qualities and how they fuel the creativity of todays maker movement.

  • Student Design Challenge Winner

    What's this?

  • Break

  • Dana Tanamachi-Williams

    Perfectly Imperfect

    Join in for an hour of light-hearted storytelling. Dana will share her story and perspective on how she used her day job as a platform for her dream job. She’ll also chat about embracing anonymity in order to make big, making necessary mistakes, and remaining teachable as one grows and matures in their career.

  • Closing Remarks

  • After Party

    Sponsored by Adjacent

    @ Modern Malt

    Right after the main event, swing on into Modern Malt for drinks and appetizers. Three words: "Pork. Belly. Pops." Not doing it for you? How about: "Chicken. &. Waffles." or "Grilled. Cheese. Bites."? Either way, we'll see you there!


Once again we’re adding something new to the mix with a full day of Workshops to compliment our Friday sessions. Whether it’s learning how best to use type on the web or trying your hand at calligraphy, we’ve got you covered. Come a day early and sign up for a workshop on Thursday, April 16th.

  • All Day

    Responsive Typography

    Jason Pamental

    Every website uses type somewhere; often it’s the most prevalent aspect of your design on the screen. Responsive design is all about making sure your design works on all devices—but too often people forget that your type has to respond as well. From choosing typefaces and implementing fonts well, we’ll cover how to get them, how to get them on screen (fast!), how to ensure your design holds up (even when they don’t load), and how to add that extra bit of panache to help your site really stand out.

  • ½ Day

    Modern Calligraphy

    Christie Jones

    The Modern Calligraphy workshop is designed for people with little to no experience with calligraphy. Based on the Copperplate calligraphy style you will learn my alphabet, tips, tricks, and favorite tools. The workshop is hands on, with a lot of one-on-one instruction. Leaving the workshop you will understand the fundamentals of both the lowercase and uppercase letters, how to hold the calligraphy pen, and you will receive a take home calligraphy kit with all of the tools that you will need to start. Open to righties & lefties!

  • ½ Day

    Content Strategy Crash Course

    Todd Cramer & Michelle Bersani

    Employing good content strategy isn't a luxury–it's a necessity in this multi-device world of ours. Join Grid Content Co.'s Todd Cramer and Michelle Bersani for this half-day workshop where they'll will break down the components of content strategy, conduct a hands-on content inventory and analysis of an existing website, and provide you with a playbook of content strategy basics. Don't continue leave content considerations for the end of your projects, only to terrorize copious amounts of design decisions. If you work on the Web or are in marketing, this workshop is exactly what you need to effectively communicate with your audience from the start.

Student Design Challenge

Design is a powerful tool to make a positive impact on our communities and give voice to important messages. This year, Create Upstate will highlight the area's best upcoming designers participating in AIGA Upstate New York's Student Design Challenge: Design Your Community.

Submission Details & Contest Rules

More about AIGA’s mission to design for good


Ticket sales closed on Friday, April 3rd.


Create Upstate wouldn’t be possible without the support of our generous sponsors. Interested in joining this distinguished list and supporting the Upstate New York design community? Let us know.

  • Mohawk Fine PaperInspirational Sponsor
  • TerakeetFoundational Sponsor
  • RoundedFoundational Sponsor
  • adjacentAfter Party Sponsor
  • id29Community Sponsor
  • MyFontsCommunity Sponsor
  • Stress DesignCommunity Sponsor
  • AtenCommunity Sponsor
  • EMALocal Agency Sponsor
  • MadGloryLocal Agency Sponsor
  • AWPLocal Agency Sponsor
  • SkillshareIn-Kind Sponsor
  • ThreadbirdIn-Kind Sponsor
  • Sticker MuleIn-Kind Sponsor
  • Image AgentIn-Kind Sponsor
  • Dellas GraphicsIn-Kind Sponsor
  • WacomIn-Kind Sponsor



We’re excited to be having this years event at Sky Armory, right in the heart of downtown Syracuse. The open, loft-like event space is perfect for Create Upstate’s second year.


Traveling from outside Syracuse? Come a day early! We have blocks at one of the best hotels in the area, conveniently located right in Armory Square.