Upskill Like A Total Pro At The World’s Most Inspiring Creative Conferences

By Rick Stephens

A woman in sunglasses looking at neon lights.

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we never know what’s coming. We can’t control the future, despite our best efforts. But we can adapt and innovate. And that’s exactly what these creative conferences explore. They’re the place to be if you want to be the first to know about innovations, new technologies and the future of creative industries. Check out what’s on offer in 2021 and get ready to have your mind blown. 

Pause Fest


Going totally online for 2021, Melbourne’s own Pause Fest will be packed full of virtual events from Monday, 1 March to Friday, 12 March. Less conference, more festival, the event tackles all things business and creativity and looks towards an innovative future. Festival highlights include executive speakers from Google’s Empathy Lab, NASA, Netflix and Afterpay. This is where the future starts so don’t get left behind. 

South By SouthWest (SXSW)

Texas and Online

Is it a music festival? Is it a conference? It’s a bit of both. SXSW takes place in Texas and has been responsible for kick-starting countless creative careers. There are people from across the creative industries involved in the conference from performers and writers to engineers and producers. There will still be a physical event for 2021 and more info will be released on that soon, but you can join in from home for the virtual event which will be running from Wednesday, 16 March to Sunday, 20 March. Stay tuned for the lineup and check out more info here

Adobe Max


It makes sense for one of the largest tech giants to host their conference online in 2021—in some ways, we wonder why it never went online before. Adobe MAX returns in 2021 and they’re calling it one of the ‘most immersive, imaginative, and innovative digital events of the year’. The conference will include the unveiling of the latest Creative Cloud updates as well as loads of inspiring speakers from Wednesday 20 October to Friday 22 October 2021. For now, you can get a taste of what’s to come with the 2020 events on demand here.

Complex Con

Long Beach, CA

What started out as a magazine in 2002 has become a global cultural phenomenon reaching over 120 million people a year. Popular culture takes on a new image at Complex Com. Their mission is to reveal authentic popular culture through music, conversations, talks and events. The conference covers all kinds of cultural material from trends and trendsetters, to popular culture, social movements, music and art, and how technology bridges subcultures together. It’s like an Arts Degree on steroids. Follow the socials and check out the website for updates through 2021. 

Semi Permanent

Sydney and Porto

Eighteen years young, Semi Permanent creative events include a range of talks, installations, exhibitions, workshops, labs and more, covering all kinds of creative fields. The lineup for 2021 in Sydney and Porto hasn’t been announced yet, but if this year’s is anything to go by then it should be packed. The November, 2020 event held in Auckland featured 27 speakers across ten hours in a single day. These speakers included artists, designers, architects, writers and choreographers to name a few. Follow the event on socials for the latest updates and announcements.  

The Design Conference (TDC)


Celebrating ten years, the 2021 Design Conference will be bringing the best of Australian and International Designers to Brisbane. This conference is one of the few with a dedicated student day on Tuesday, 17 November, before diving into the professional side of things for Wednesday, 18 November to Friday, 20 November. The lineup is already available on the event website, with all the keynote speakers and venues already listed. Get ready to have design envy. 

Copenhagen Fashion Summit

Copenhagen and Online

This is no ordinary fashion summit, you don’t need to dress in the latest designer clothing and know everything about who’s wearing what. Not at all. You just have to wear clothes—unless you’re streaming from home, then no clothes needed. The Copenhagen Fashion Summit is all about the future of sustainable and ethical clothes. There are some industry-based speakers as well as innovation awards and runways. You’ll get to see the future of virtual shopping, hear about innovative new fabrics, brands and techniques, and hear from our very own princess, HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. Best of all, it’s free. Watch the 2020 conference here

Don’t stop there. Suss out the five best online language-learning courses here.

Image credit: Josh Rawson Harris

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