How to Make the Most of This Year’s Conference in Minneapolis

A lot goes into making the SEGD Annual Conferencethe experience you know and love, including careful thought and planning from the conference co-chairs. They spend countless hours volunteering their time, talent and resources to make their conference the best ever—and this year is no different.

As locals, 2018 SEGD Conference Experience Minneapolis Co-Chairs Gretta Fry and Gary Stemler know a thing or two—not only about what this year’s conference has to offer, but also how to take advantage of this year’s host city.

Here, they share what they’re looking forward to most at this year’s event—and why you should make sure you’re in Minneapolis June 7–9.


What do you love most about the SEGD community?

Gretta Fry: I love to see such a great symbiotic relationship between designers and fabricators, which is expanding into more expertise as the industry grows into larger technology realms and brings in more specialists.

Gary Stemler: Community is the key word here. People who are involved with SEGD genuinely care about what they are doing, and that passion becomes infectious. Being around some of the most creative people in the world who have a real passion for what they do is inspiring. Having been a long-time member, it sort of becomes old home week whenever the conference time comes around. It’s a time to reconnect with old friends and make new acquaintances.

From a programming perspective, what are the goals for this year’s conference?

GS: Looking at the SEGD mission of inspire, educate and connect, I feel like we’ve hit on all three for the programming of this year’s event. We have industry leaders and cutting-edge designers presenting. There are some great educational opportunities for both veterans and the next generation. And, of course, we have some great parties planned—starting with an opening kick-off party at archetype’s new offices, the President’s Reception that can’t be missed and the local SEGD chapter bash at the acclaimed Mill City Museum. You will have a good time.

GF: The goals of the conference are to reboot, recharge and reconnect with others in the experiential graphics industry. The keynotes, working sessions, tours and more will certainly bring all this—but those who come to participate and bring their energy will really make this an impactful and memorable event!

What sessions/events are you most excited about at this year’s SEGD Conference?

GF: I know the local tours will bring much inspiration with all that the Twin Cities has reinvented over the recent years in preparation for the Super Bowl and other major events. Minneapolis is trending and thriving, and we cannot wait to connect everyone with this place and share just how amazing it truly is!

GS: We have secured some of the most prominent business leaders in the Minneapolis market, from Tanya Dreesen—a vice president of the Minnesota Vikings, who hosted this year’s Super Bowl—to Eric Quint, the international design director from 3M who transformed their branding throughout all of their products. We also have something different this year with a nationally recognized leader in business training, Nancy Dahl, who will be speaking to all of us on how to lead by example and how to help create the next generation of business leaders.

What should someone who has never attended know about the SEGD Conference?

GS: Come excited and willing to step out of your box a little. We have all sorts of different personalities involved in our industry, and this is your chance to take advantage of this opportunity to meet some of the leaders in experiential graphic design.

GF: Attendees can really feel the pride of being a part of the experiential graphic design field: The creative energy, knowledge sharing and networking will bring your career to a new level!

What does the host city, Minneapolis, have to offer attendees?

GF: According to Business Insider, Minnesota is ranked number one for quality of life! (Exactly!) If you like food, music, sports, outdoors, theater, shopping, micro-brews or nice people, you will get the perfect combination of all of it. Make sure to plan your trip to come early or stay late to enjoy the adventures in and out of the city. Stay posted for more options on those specific adventures.

GS: Hopefully everyone will get the opportunity to get outside and explore our cities a little. Please try to take an extra day on the front- or back-end and visit some of the lakes, parks and bike trails.

Our city is under a renaissance of sorts with the recently hosted Super Bowl and the upcoming NCAA Final 4 in 2019. From the moment you arrive, our airport is undergoing a great transformation, and it was recently recognized as the best airport in North America for the second straight year.

Nicollet Mall is a pedestrian-only street which has recently undergone a $50 million renovation with fabulous new shops and restaurants.  And of course, you can get your fix of Prince at his studio and home, which has been turned into a tourist spot, or the nightclub First Avenue made famous in Purple Rain.

There also is this thing called “Minnesota Nice.” It’s for real; you won’t find friendlier people in the U.S.

What are some of your favorite local spots that attendees should check out while in Minneapolis?

GS: The Mississippi River is a stone’s throw from our hotel. Take a walk over the stone arch bridge behind the hotel, take a river boat cruise or take the light rail over to St. Paul. The University of Minnesota is a wonderful urban campus with fabulous green spaces and also home to the international acclaimed Weisman Art Museum, designed by Frank Gehry.

GF: The Broadway musical “Chicago” will be at the Orpheum Theatre, starting June 5. Get up early Saturday morning to check out the local Mill City Farmers Market, just down the street from the hotel—a true Minneapolis gem! Grammy-winner Shawn Colvin is headlining at Dakota (Prince’s fave jazz venue) the week of our conference! And finally, sneak over to St. Paul—less than 12 miles away—to find many more eclectic options, such as the stoic St. Paul Hotel (try the sunken lobby bar martinis), Vieux Carre (another speakeasy-style music venue) and the St. Paul Saints (minor league baseball shenanigans at their new downtown, award-winning, glam field as they take on their South Dakota rivals). There is no such thing as overstaying your welcome in Minnesota!

Why is this year the year that people must attend the SEGD Conference?

GF: No one makes the most of summer like Minneapolis does. Come and kick off your summer adventures here with enough inspiration for your career, your creativity and your amusement!

GS: We have such a diverse group of speakers and breakout sessions, I really feel that there is information and inspiration for all who attend. Not to mention that our city is pretty cool (literally) but come early June, the ice will be off the lakes and it’s the best time of the year.


The 2018 SEGD Conference Experience Minneapolisis shaping up to be the best yet. Are you ready to register? Don’t wait! Rates go up May 1.