I went on my first ski trip when I was a teenager. It took a solid day to learn the ropes of speeding down a mountain on a pair of sticks, but I was hooked. At that point in my life I had gone scuba diving, water skiing, played nearly every sport, and various other X Game-like activities. None of that compared to the feeling of sliding effortlessly down snowy slopes. To this day, those ski trips I took as a teenager evoke some of the fondest adrenaline rush memories I have. There’s nothing quite like it.
“OMG, this would be amazing,” my inner-snow-ski-loving-teenager thoughts emerged. “A freaking conference in the mountains at Lake Tahoe!? With Marc Hemeon, Daniel Burka, Ben Cline, Phil Coffman, Tobias Van Schneider, Jon Lax, Meg Robichaud, and Dann Petty?”
All of this combined foreshadowed a truly epic occurrence indeed.
My initial excitement was quickly displaced by a heavy feeling of reluctance. I already had travel plans for March and there was no way I would feel good about trying to convince my wife, who stays at home with our four kids, that I needed to travel for yet another week in March, to attend another conference. A few days went by and I never mentioned it to her.
After letting go of the possibility of attending, I received an email from Dann personally inviting me to Epicurrence. “What!?” I was flattered, but still felt reluctant. Dann and I have known each other and communicated regularly through Twitter, Dribbble, etc. for the last 5 years or more, but had yet to meet in person. His email was enough motivation to at least mention it to my wife, my extremely wonderful wife, who shared my excitement followed by a mutual reluctance.
Long story short, we talked it over and she agreed that it was an amazing opportunity so she gave me the green light to go. I would never do something like this without her full support.
After flying into Reno from Athens, I caught a ride to the Epic House with Aaron Wade. The houses were indeed epic, nestled in the woods within walking distance to the the ski lift that we’d all be taking soon to head up the mountain.
We all kind of congregated out front, watching our Twitter stream come to life right before our very eyes. Some people I recognized instantly– Tobias Van Schneider who’s beard is quickly dwarfed by his stellar personality, Josh Austin who's a total kindred spirit and a fellow father of four, Jonathon Moore, Phil Coffman, Charlie Waite, Matt Spiel, and more.
For others it took me several minutes before I realized who they were– I’m looking at you Anthony Lagoon!
As we waited Dann and a few others were filling backpacks for everyone with the swaggiest swag that I’ve ever swagged before.
Their contents included:
- Topo's Backpack
- Patagonia Nano Hoodie Jacket w/ Epicurrence Patch
- American Apparel Epicurrence T-Shirt
- 2 Day Lift Tickets to Heavenly Ski Resort
- 2 Epicurrence Stickers
- 1 Epicurrence Patch
- 2+ Fairends Custom Hats
- 2 Thermos from InVision
- 1 Cliff Bar
- 2 Pack hand warmers
- 1 Keep Tahoe Blue Sticker
- The Great Discontent Issue 2
- A personal hand written thank you note by Dann
- 1TB Western Digital My Passport Hard Drive with 240+ Photos from the Event Pre-Installed
Everyone putting on the gear from the beginning was an amazing way to start things off and very symbolic of the unity that was experienced by everyone at Epicurrence. It felt more like a family reunion than it did a conference even though I only knew a handful of people to start with.
We made our way inside to get ready for the night’s activities.
The speakers were more conversation leaders than presenters. Every session, day and night, had a down to earth vibe that was raw and honest. Everyone would ask questions and the path of conversation was led by anyone who wanted to contribute. Once the sessions were over, everyone hung out and landed in deep and interesting conversations that were an extension of what was already happening.
There where so many wonderful conversations I can't possibly recount them all and Rigel St. Pierre did a wonderful job facilitating our group and keep everyone on track.
We’d crash for the night, hit the slopes, and do it all over again. Here are some shots of each session.
Designer State of the Union
Are Design Agencies Dead?
Extremely insightful talk discussion with Ben Cline, Tobias Van Schneider, and Jon Lax. We got to hear first hand the pros, cons, struggles, and decisions made at various agencies as well as what the future holds for the agency service model.
The Grid Evolution
Dan Tocchini and Leigh Taylor from The Grid are taking on a truly gigantic task, automating the design of websites. They’re building an artificially intelligent system that can handle a freakin’ lot of information thrown at it and make decisions based on the input. This will be really exciting to keep an eye on.
Daniel Burka and Marc Hemeon
Ben Cline and Eric Atwell
So good hearing from Ben Cline and Eric Atwell from Rally Interactive– their thoughts behind motion design, dealing with clients, and building an interactive studio.
Story time with the whole crew involving diamond energy, gerbils, dolphins, and Invision. #shieldyourface
Tobias Van Schneider
It was great hearing Tobias discuss his role at Spotify and how he treats side projects. He’s a seriously nice guy with tons of insight.
I was a pretty decent skier 15 years ago, but haven’t been on the slopes since. I decided to try snowboarding both days at Epicurrence and the struggle was very real. I fell more times than I can count, mostly due to my eagerness to bomb the mountain waaaayyy beyond my current snowboarding skill level.
The first day I fell on a patch of ice, my shirt flung up, and my soft fleshy back got a nice little raspberry scrape on the lower right side. Apparently it won best mountain injury, although it paled in comparison to how sore my entire body was from falling down and getting back up over and over and over for two days straight. I have no regrets.
Marc, Geoff, and Phil getting ready.
Ben's not sure why I'm taking his picture.
On the ski lift.
Hanging with Josh.
Matt Spiel wiped out after hitting the slopes.
Epicurrence was very appropriately named and I’m truly thankful that I got to be a small part of it. I was really impressed with Dann and how well thought out everything was from the personal chefs whipping up amazing meals to the massages in the evening after a day on the mountain. He’s incredibly down to earth and a super thoughtful guy.
Big props to Rico Castillero for shooting the entire event and providing everyone with such great photos!
Check out more shots from the Amigo Booth at the Epic House.
Make sure to read Phil Coffman's Epicurrence recap, too!