10 Designers You MUST Discover at HOW Design Live

HOW Design Live is known for our radical thinkers from business and design. Out of the intersection of art, culture, and entertainment, the most innovative creators emerge. We are the tech pioneers, the futurists, and the trend forecasters. For 5 days, we bring together some of the biggest names in the industry and leaders whose portfolios you’ve long admired.

But what we are most proud of is that our programing partners have curated a full roster of incredible talent. Just a quick glance at the schedule and you’ll find an endless number of creatives whose sessions you simply won’t want to miss. Here are 10 cutting-edge visionaries you’ll definitely want to see in Atlanta, whose ideas about design will form the future of this ever-changing industry.


Jihan Zencirli: Founder of Geronimo Balloons

Jihan Zencirli: Founder of Geronimo Balloons

In 2011, Jihan threw all caution to the wind and relocated from her hometown of Seattle to Los Angeles to embark on a Helium endeavor – to bring more happiness to the world one large, colorful balloon at a time. Her company, Geronimo Balloons, has turned into a world-wide recognized, successful, trend-setting décor atelier that has had the privilege of dressing some of the most illustrious parties and homes in Los Angeles and beyond. Her work has been featured in countless lifestyle and fashion catalogues, websites, commercial advertising campaigns, and magazines. Jihan is a passionate, innovative artist and entrepreneur who currently lends her business savvy in brand and business consulting to local and long distance companies and artisans alike. Even Kanye West.

In Jihan’s session you will not only explore the act of embracing limitations but also the deliberate process of seeking and inventing restrictions and limitations as a needful process to find solutions within oneself. Jihan's session persuasively suggests that without the crutch of known paths, you can find yourself in the ideal environment for the spark of your own brilliance and genius to appear. 

Matthew Manos: Founder of Verynice

Matthew Manos: Founder of Verynice

For over a decade, Matthew Manos has been a leading advocate for pro-bono service and social entrepreneurship in the design community. As a design-strategy consultancy, verynice has invented a series of tools that have been leveraged by over 10,000 entrepreneurs, educators, and organizations, in order to engage in the design of socially-responsible business.

How can we use design principles to invent a business model? How can business-design principles enhance a client engagement for a designer? Participants will be introduced to the entire business-design process, and will learn how to leverage verynice's Models of Impact framework in order to uncover innovative opportunities in the global market.

Joel Buekelman: Senior Interaction Designer at Google

Joel Buekelman: Senior Interaction Designer at Google

Over the past 5 years, Joel has had the opportunity to contribute to variety of products/apps from early-stage startups to global mobile applications. Learn how to avoid the design pitfalls of personal bias in Joel’s incisive session. 

As designers and creatives, we assume responsibility to craft products, experiences and things around us—a role better tempered by research and education than one's personal perspective or taste. It's too easy for us to absorb current viewpoints or personal biases instead of exploring and understanding new ways—and maybe refining our own. Guard yourself against the encroachment of bias in your design process.

Vanessa Dewey, Art Director of Mattel

Vanessa Dewey, Art Director of Mattel

Vanessa Dewey is an award-winning Downtown Los Angeles based designer. She is an art director for toymaker Mattel’s Toy Box division. Currently, she is on the Board of Directors for AIGA Los Angeles where she champions the chapter's Women's Leader Initiative as well as the InHouse Initiative. 

Do you remember your first Mattel toy? Was it a Barbie, or, maybe a Hot Wheels? Most of us have childhood memories involving Mattel toys. Vanessa’s play-minded session will cover what it’s like to create branding and packaging for an iconic American Toy Company. Traditions are hard to break and it can be difficult to push through “conventional thinking” to take risks. But it is best-in-class creative that can move the needle.

Rafael Prieto, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Savvy Studio

Rafael Prieto, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Savvy Studio

Co-founder and creative director of Savvy Studio, a Mexico City and New York City -based branding and architecture studio, Rafael Prieto is the person one constantly finds at the core of many relevant and interesting ventures. A laid-back attitude and dark sense of humor work as a living representation of Savvy’s essential values and the studio’s distinctive perspective when it comes to creating unique, powerful and relatable brands.

In his session he will discuss the process of search and analysis through ourselves to find and accept our strengths and weaknesses. How to embrace your strength or weakness and pick how we utilize them to work in our favor in order to be authentic and self-confident. To always be true to ourselves and not try to be someone else or someone else’s story, but creating our own. From there we can go and sell our story, and our creative input. 

Maurice Cherry, Founder and Principal of Lunch

Maurice Cherry, Founder and Principal of Lunch

Maurice Cherry is the founder and principal at Lunch (formerly 3eighteen media), a multidisciplinary studio in Atlanta, GA that helps creative brands craft messages and tell stories for their targeted audiences, including fostering relationships with underrepresented communities. Maurice is a pioneering digital creator who is most well-known for the Black Weblog Awards, the Web's longest running event celebrating Black bloggers, video bloggers, and podcasters. 

Diversity is a hot topic in the design community. Conferences promise to do better every year after unveiling all-White speaker panels. Design-driven companies in Silicon Valley like Twitter report only two percent of their US-based employees are Black. And between magazines, podcasts, and other media, the field of design can look like a monoculture. How do we fix this? Can we fix this? And what is the overall benefit of diversifying the design industry? Maurice Cherry will explore these questions and more in this session.

Blake Howard, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Matchstic

Blake Howard, Creative Director and Co-Founder of Matchstic

Blake is the Creative Director and Co-Founder of Matchstic, a branding firm he started at the ripe old age of 22. A Nashville native and University of Tennessee graduate, he made the move to Atlanta just after college with a suit case, computer, and a dream of starting a business.

In 12 years of leading or being a part of branding initiatives, Blake has commonly seen decision makers revert back to what is safe; a boring logo, a generic tagline, or a lifeless design, all in the spirit of playing it safe. Time and time again designers get frustrated with the vision of what could be only to have brilliance reduced down to mediocrity. In his session, you’ll learn how to appropriately stand up to clients, learn how to not flee from failing, and do the best work of your life. Spoiler alert…one thing is required: courage.

Tim Belonax, Graphic Designer and Educator

Tim Belonax, Graphic Designer and Educator

Tim is a San Francisco-based designer, writer, and educator whose work for nonprofits and corporations has been recognized internationally by publications and museums. He teaches at California College of the Arts and is a board member at San Francisco Center for the Book. He’s worked as a Graphic Design Lead at Airbnb and a Communication Designer at Facebook. He was also the Principal Designer at their Analog Research Lab where he directed and designed projects reflecting/challenging Facebook's internal culture.

Why does one of the largest tech companies in the world have a letterpress in-house? Why does the hottest hospitality start-up need a hot foil stamper? The answers to these questions and a host of others will highlight how new companies are championing design, from the inside out.  In his session, Tim will be talking about the practical and impractical lessons he's learned from working in two different in-house analog studios within technology companies. He'll discuss why they exist, what projects they handle, how to hire for them, and what you should do when Martha Stewart asks to visit.

Roberto Blake, Graphic Designer & Marketer

Roberto Blake, Graphic Designer & Marketer

As an authority on Video Marketing, Visual Design and Content Marketing Strategy, Roberto Blake has grown an audience of thousands who he has helped educate and motivate to grow their creative passion or their businesses. Roberto Blake is a Designer and Marketer who has leveraged Social Media and Content Development to grow his Freelance Business and Creative Consultancy. He currently has a YouTube Channel with over 50,000 subscribers and is also the host of the Create Something Awesome Today Podcast.

Many creatives struggle with social media. There is the notion that "your work should speak for itself". In a noisy world you'll be drowned out by your loudest competitor even if they deliver half the quality. Roberto will teach you how Social Media is a powerful tool, and creative professionals can use it to scale their businesses and deliver value while still being authentic.

Tomáš Müller, Digital Artist

Tomáš Müller, Digital Artist

Tomáš Müller is an established freelance digital artist with 15 years experience providing high-end visuals to agencies and clients from all over the world, plus a Depositphotos evangelist. His broad focus shifts between advertising campaigns, matte painting for TV and movies, conceptional art and creative retouching. 

Join an established digital artist as he explains how to become successful in creative industries through gaining inspiration and skills from within yourself, rather than outside in today's world filled with visual stimulation.