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Meet Hector Silva of Advanced Design Sketching

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hector Silva.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Hector. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Advanced Design Sketching began in 2016 as a summer workshop for 15 design students to hone skills outside of the classroom about design topics such as: rapid visualization, visual communication, marker rendering, understanding hierarchy, product relationship, and how to involve sketching as a tool in the design process. These weekly workshops were held at the UIC Innovation Center and sponsored by the IDSA Chicago Chapter. Each session provided an opportunity for students to interact with design professionals either directly or via video conference. These professional designers shared their insights and answered questions from students about the design scene in which they made a name for themselves.

Advanced Design Sketching now collaborates with 50 plus professional designers, students, design studios, design educators, and more from across the world alongside having a strong presence in both Milwaukee and Chicago. Since its start as a student-led organization, ADS has now evolved into a into a multifaceted student and professional run non-profit that puts on SQ1 CON—the first design conference of its kind with a focus on visual communication—in addition to offering workshops and a free video library on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram that features sketching videos from some of the most notable industrial designers of our time. Square 1—a phrase that means to begin again after a dead-end or failure, but is also indicative of where everything begins.

At the very core of ADS is a small, concentrated team of design students and professionals lead by Hector Silva. The diverse team is comprised of a number of versatile young designers that take on graphic design, marketing, event planning, and other roles to develop SQ1 each year. Their focus has allowed them to host their first two wildly successful SQ1 conferences within 10 months of one another—pulling attendance from a total of nearly 1,000 people in the first year they’ve held the annual conference with an international audience to boot. Since 2016, ADS and SQ1 have expanded beyond sketching and continue to push their message forward through education in the advancement of various design and communication practices.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Absolutely not. We have never organized a conference before – we didn’t know how to prepare for it, what to expect the day of, how to ask for money – but we did know how to get things done, and we knew that all the work we did would eventually show results. No matter how much you prepare for something, you’re never prepared. We are now two conferences deep, planning on a third one, and this one is a huge curveball, it’s not taking place in Chicago – therefore, we have to learn everything all over again. No matter how experienced you are, that will only take you so far, you have to just DO IT, go in 100% and re-adjust every time you get derailed.

What else should our readers know?
We are a non-profit that specializes in design education. We’re known for design sketching, as we were the first design organization to host a design sketching specific conference – but we’re now in the process of changing the conference so that it covers more general design. The team right now is not only diverse in gender but also diverse in race and ethnicity. That is very important to us – we want a team where people come from all walks of life and different backgrounds so that we can then have a conversation and discuss, even argue about ideas, we are super proud of this. One thing that sets us apart from others is that we are a team of fifteen, majority professionals, and students – all grassroots, and probably the youngest underdog organization ever – but we like a good underdog story.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
The biggest change is in our conference. The last two conferences have been mostly about design sketching and process – we’re turning a new leaf and will introduce new design topics, with a clean line up of speakers, and we’re moving locations. So many changes, and we can only share so little because we haven’t officially announced our next conference. We’re currently working on a live podcast, raising funds for a scholarship, and some regional events.

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