As printers of custom t-shirts, we're really big on good design. It can kind of be make-or-break when it comes to representing your brand.
As such, we get really hyped about design conferences. Design conferences are an excellent way for designers, product people, content managers, and the generally design-obsessed to get out of the office (or the home office)— while also sharpening a skillset. These conferences also present great opportunities to meet like-minded professionals — and while many of this year’s conferences are virtual or hybrid, there are still countless design gems for attendees (virtual or otherwise) to glean.
So, whether you’re flying out or logging on, here are some of this year’s best design conferences.
When: January 27, 2022
Key Takeaways: A digital meetup aimed at promoting more effective collaboration between Product, UX, Design, and Development teams, UXDX will feature a number of speakers from various design disciplines. While the conference is virtual, it promises to be an engaging and informative networking opportunity for creatives of all backgrounds.
Homer Gaines, UI Engineer, Guru
Nishtha Dalal, Sr. Product Designer, Etsy
Changying ‘Z’ Zheng, Design Operations Lead, Cloudflare
Kendall Avery, Lead Researcher, Ride Experience, Uber
Cost of Attendance: Free
When: February 28-March 2, 2022
Where: Denver, CO
Key Takeaways: As the name would suggest, this conference focuses on the importance of experience in the design process — bringing together over 40 speakers from various disciplines to highlight the impact experience-based design can have.
Derin Basden, VP, Technology Delivery, Peacock
Jamie Feld, VP, UX Design Lead, JPMorgan Chase
Sam Roberts II, GM, Sky Club Design and Facilities, Delta Air Lines
Lisa Jennings Young, Content Design Manager, Health, Twitter
Cost of Attendance: $2,399-$3,099
When: March 2-4, 2022
Key Takeaways: The theme of this year’s conference is “design during perilous times.” Though that theme might suggest impending doom, the tone of the conference is one of optimism and opportunity — as the conference explores ways in which designers can connect and unite audiences through design.
Cost of Attendance: $175-$500
When: March 11-14, 2022
Where: Austin, TX
Key Takeaways: One of the most influential design conferences in existence, SXSW boasts 15 programming tracks — meaning there’s something for every designer (or design enthusiast) at this conference. Given the rapidly-changing creative landscape, chances are this year’s conference will be one for the history books.
Khoi Vinh, Sr. Director of Design, Adobe
Jack Conte, Co-founder, Patreon
Tim Ferris, Author and Podcaster
Andrew Zimmern, Celebrity Chef
Cost of Attendance: $429-$1,625
Hosting an event (virtual or otherwise) and need shirts for your staff or attendees? Check out our resources here: Custom T-Shirts and More for Events
When: April 6-8, 2022
Where: Salt Lake City, UT
Key Takeaways: A conference for product managers and experiential designers alike, Front Utah gathers a number of perspectives from design and product leaders — resulting in a creative community built on shared experience. Attendees can expect to gain insight into numerous fields and disciplines, walking away with knowledge that can be applied to just about any creative pursuit.
Speakers: TBA, but 2021’s lineup was stacked.
Cost of Attendance: $500
When: April 18-20, 2022
Where: Seattle, WA
Key Takeaways: An Event Apart believes that, in order to do your best work, designers and creatives need to (briefly) put deadlines to the side and open themselves up to “a whole new world of people and ideas.” In theory, the conference is exactly that, and attendees can plan on leaving the conference with a sharpened skillset, a new perspective on design, and maybe even a new friend (or two!)
Val Head, Sr. Design Evangelist, Adobe
Wil Reynolds, Director of Digital Strategy, Seer Interactive
Cost of Attendance: $600-$1,500
When: May 10-11, 2022
Key Takeaways: As the name may suggest, Women In Product was started by a group of women in product leadership as a means of connecting other women looking to grow in the field. The conference serves as equal parts learning experience and networking event, and if previous years are any indication, tickets will sell out fast.
Speakers: TBA, however previous speakers have included:
Tara King-Hughes, Sr. Director of Product Management, Strava
Deb Liu, CEO, Ancestry
Whitney Wolfe Herd, Founder, Bumble
Mave Houston, Sr. Director and Head of UXR, Disney+, Hulu
Cost of Attendance: TBA
When: June 14-16, 2022
Key Takeaways: The fourth iteration of this ambitious design conference will focus on sustainability — as well as the Metaverse — through the lens of design. DesignOps looks toward the future, and the resulting conversations are sure to leave lasting impressions on virtual attendees.
Speakers: TBA, but 2021’s speakers are available here.
Cost of Attendance: $723-$1,559
When: June 14-17, 2022
Where: Minneapolis, MN
Key Takeaways: While not a design conference in the traditional sense, those interested in the intersection of art, commerce, and technology should look into Eyeo Festival tickets ASAP. Installations, performances, and speeches on topics ranging from Afrofuturism to Climate Change to “soulful technology” are sure to intrigue just about any audience — and the whole festival is nothing short of an experience.
Erstin Han Ersin, Creative Director, Marshmallow Laser Feast
Alberto Cairo, Knight Chair of Visual Journalism, University of Miami
Nadja Popovich, Graphics Editor, The New York Times
Cost of Attendance: $779
When: June 21-23, 2022
Where: San Diego, CA
Key Takeaways: Gathering UX professionals from countless industries, UXPA caters to designers, strategists, researchers, and consumers. Talks and presentations tend to highlight the human element of design, but don’t refrain from getting into the nitty-gritty on occasion.
Speakers: TBA, but last year’s speakers include:
Jen Romano, UX Researcher and Manager, Google
Kathryn Campbell, Research Manager, Instagram
Jai Dandekar, Lead UX Designer, PayPal
Cost of Attendance: $325-$1,575
When: July 19-22, 2022
Key Takeaways: Geared toward students and providing mentorship opportunities in addition to presentations from headlining speakers, AIGA’s Portfolio Festival is a must-attend for any and all aspiring designers. In addition to keynotes, attendees can opt to have design portfolios critiqued by professionals — making this conference one of the most interactive out there.
Cost of Attendance: $49
When: October 20-22, 2022
Where: Seattle, WA and Virtual
Key Takeaways: Billed as “the biggest event of the year for creative thinkers,” the AIGA Design Conference challenges designers to think differently and design with the future in mind. Like the Portfolio Festival, collaboration and feedback is central to the conference, but the event doesn’t shy away from having deeper cultural conversations as well.
Speakers: TBA, but last year’s speaker list was beyond impressive.
Cost of Attendance: $199-$899
Key Takeaways: Adobe MAX is an incredible celebration of creativity and inspiration—and the team goes all out every year. We've had the honor of printing their event shirts for the past few years, and it's been so cool to participate in bringing the work of some truly amazing designers to life. While COVID forced MAX to be virtual the past two years, we have high hopes for this event making an in-person return again this year. Stay tuned!!
Where will you find your inspiration?
Are you going virtual? Headed west? Maybe even planning a design conference grand tour? Either way, let us know @realthread on Twitter! In the meantime, if you and your team are looking to make some custom gear — from some design freaks to another — we’re here to help.