Create Upstate

Design lives Upstate

One incredible conference celebrating community, inspiring action, and connecting Upstate New York designers. Safe to say, you won't want to miss it.

Join Us

Syracuse, NY

May 16, 2014


The Venue

We’re absolutely thrilled to host the first Create Upstate at the Everson Museum of Art. Beyond being an inspiring space of unique architecture, the Everson’s theater provides a unique setup for presentations. Cross your fingers for good weather so we can take advantage of their beautiful terrace.


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


Springtime in Downtown Syracuse is similar to most of Upstate: a collective sigh of relief from a crazy-long winter. We promise to be the most hospitable of hosts: come for the event, then join us for an amazing after party.


  1. Registration

  2. We span six area codes across the great Empire State of New York. Individually, we're designers, thinkers, and makers of amazing things, but we've yet to untap our potential together. Create Upstate is a significant step in that direction. We'll preview the day's sessions and events while you settle in amongst the bright community of fellow Upstate designers.

  3. A conversation about love, tearing stuff apart, literally putting blood (yours, preferably) into things, and maybe rebuilding what is broken. Or you know, lighting it on fire to enjoy the warmth.

  4. Graphic designers are generally considered to be detail oriented and highly attenuated to the subtleties of type and image. However, when we concentrate too much on the details, we can miss the other things that happen during the design process. The accidents, the discarded scraps of paper, even the curious pile of stuff on the edges of our InDesign artboard. It is important to look not only close and far at what we are working on, but to the left and right as well. The trouble with kerning is not just missing the forest for the trees, but missing the forest for how closely two particular leaves sit next to each other, and missing the road in the forest that leads to another, more interesting forest.

  5. Break

  6. Allies are motivated to make design choices by the people those choices serve. Although not perfect, simulations are experiential and can help designers gain tangible insight into the range of needs, experiences, and abilities of the people they design for – their audiences both on and off the screen. In this session, design educator Rebecca Mushtare will challenge designers to use their design powers for access and not unintended gatekeeping.

  7. We're reviving and revamping a previously-dead manufacturing process to support a burgeoning letterpress community. It's a fusion of design and engineering that has required us to learn the nuances of 60-year-old custom machinery, carpentry and carving techniques with no YouTube instructions, and a brand new market. Add to that computer-designed typeface revivals, laser-cut letterforms, and a Vandercook #3. I'll share some details about our process and stories from along the way.

  8. WordPress is a powerful tool that can help you launch a simple blog, your client’s marketing site, your personal portfolio, or even a full-fledged community network. We’ll go through the basics of crafting a WordPress theme, and how you can customize everything to fit you (or your client’s) needs.

  9. Lunch

  10. Mingle with your neighbor – not the one you plan on sitting next to, but area code. We are all here because we are committed to sharing ideas, information and inspiration, but how do we capture this energy and keep it going?

  11. What would you do if you could travel back in time to the beginning of your design career? For one designer, changing one's mind regarding certain environmental and professional preconceptions would be crucial. Designer Jason Occhipinti examines these ideas and asks the question: "is the present worth changing?"

  12. Our industry is plagued with practices that have always been irritating but rarely questioned. Many have come to accept these practices as "part of the job" but we disagree. Your process shouldn't be based on what others are doing but instead on how you provide the best service. We feel that RFPs, concurrent projects, and other common workflows do our clients a disservice and we would love to talk about why.

  13. Break

  14. Having a finely honed process may seem like the solution to being a successful designer. But the tools we use, the processes we apply, and the mantras we rally behind will change. Embracing change and the way it can impact our work can be both educational and exciting. Let's reexamine the way we work and explore new approaches to solving problems we think we've already solved. Let's get uncomfortable.

  15. Debunking the myth that impactful work needs to originate from big cities, huge budgets and large agencies. Plus, other musings on the state of our design culture in Upstate NY, and how a life/work balance can make your life work.

  16. Building a community with a strong design culture takes a bit more than feel good talks accompanied by back patting and high fives. Michelle will cap the day off by sharing five components crucial to creating a better upstate. We'll also consider the role of non-designers. (Hint: those pesky normals are more important than you think.)

After Party

As AIGA celebrates its centennial nationally, 2014 also marks a very important 25 years for the Upstate New York chapter. Join AIGA in lighting 25 candles and celebrating the past, present and future of the AIGA Upstate New York chapter–complete with food, drink tickets, photo opps, music and a gallery viewing of the New York State of Design selected works.

Already registered for Create Upstate? Make sure you register for the after party — held at Small Plates — to get your free drink tickets.

Learn More


As the perfect complement to our Friday lineup of sessions, we’ve partnered with Adobe to provide a workshop well worth your while. Come a day early and get up to speed.

Designing a Responsive Website with Photoshop and Edge Tools and Services

This full day workshop will show you techniques for quickly and easily creating beautiful responsive website designs. Responsive design helps you to optimize your sites for design, speed and user experience, so that sites will load faster and work efficiently across different screen sizes and device types.

Sign Up


It’s not too late to be amongst some great organizations partnering with Create Upstate. Interested in supporting the Upstate New York design community? Let us know.


Sales have ended. See you on the 16th!