We here at NogginLabs take pride in pumping out fun and exciting eLearning, which is why top companies turn to us when they need custom training. How did we become so great at what we do? Is it our college degrees? Only sometimes. Is it because we’ve done it so many times? Kinda. Is it our great sense of fashion? Well, maybe.
In truth, there’s no one answer, since it takes a multitude of experiences coming together to result in great team members. What really matters is the journey each of us has taken to acquire those experiences. Those journeys can be summed up in one short line: jumping head-first into the things we love. You don’t create appealing content, beautiful code, or breathtaking designs just because someone pays you to. You do it because it’s what you love to do. We make awesome training, but it’s only awesome because we, as a team, get in rooms together to share ideas, inspiration, and our passion for creativity with each other.
So where do I find my inspiration? Lots of places, of course, but one of my favorite ways to nurture my creative side is by attending comic book conventions. As it happens, our creative process shares a lot of similarities with comic-con culture.
A Vast Creative Resource
First off, comic book conventions are a fantastic resource for anyone who works on a creative team. I’ve attended a few different ones in the past and most recently went to C2E2, the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, for my second time. C2E2 is Chicago’s largest annual convention devoted to comics, pop culture, and cosplay. Thousands of people gather at these events to chat, share ideas, and appreciate each other’s work.
They’re made up of a few typical components. There’s always a vast merchandise floor, where attendees stroll along rows of booths lined with vivid art and smiling faces. You’ll find at least a handful of autographing booths, where you can get signatures from your favorite comic book authors and artists, movie stars, cosplayers, and more. My favorite component of comic-cons, however, are the panels, where you get to hear presentations and have conversations with people from across the industry, including local artists, companies like Cards Against Humanity, and big-names like the writers of DC and Marvel comics.
Now, I realize that the world of comics isn’t for everyone. You might be thinking:
I Don’t Want to Wear a Costume, and I Know Nothing about Comics
Fantastic! Then we’re in the same boat. You absolutely don’t need to wear silly costumes to comic-con, although they’re highly encouraged. You can dress as a familiar character, or really as any weird thing that crosses your mind. My go-to costume is a t-shirt and jeans. I also don’t read any comics.
Nevertheless, even if you don’t like to read or write comics, I’ve found that there’s a lot you can learn from people who do. Keeping an open mind about where inspiration and experience can come from is key. If the event you’re going to is large enough, the panels will cover an extremely wide array of topics, from TV shows and movies, to historical fiction novels, to advancements in the tech industry.
This year I listened to a panel of novelists discuss their work in dystopian and utopian fiction. I also attended a panel where writers from ClickHole, the Onion’s site devoted to poking fun of clickbait culture, presented humorous slides about the concept of Panera Bread getting their own mascot, Ronald Panera. There’s something for everyone, and the more famous characters and high-profile companies will be familiar to most attendees.
The Art of Working as a Team
Deciding whether or not you can learn anything useful from events like comic conventions is not as simple as saying, “I’m not a comic book artist, an author, or a sci-fi nerd, so this isn’t relevant to me.” It isn’t only about being part of a fandom. It’s more about understanding the relationships that exist between people across different creative industries. Conventions are an invaluable opportunity to get all of those people in the same room. Hearing from them helps you share ideas and learn, from others’ experience, how to approach and tackle challenges in your own work.
Most comic-cons provide plenty of opportunities to hear from an extremely diverse range of creative people. You’ll find artists who draw comics dealing only in LGBTQ and racial diversity issues, as well as writers who only write comics for elementary education. As NogginLabs instructional designer Matt Trupia says: