Create Upstate is a 3-day celebration of design and creativity in Upstate NY. Once again, we’ve jam-packed our schedule with can’t-miss sessions and meaningful experiences.


May 4th

Take your time getting in to town, and get ready for the most meaningful shop talk you've ever been a part of. Thursday is all about sharing your craft with your fellow makers, followed by sharing a drink and a heckuva time at our Kickoff Party.

  • 11:30-12:30 pm

    Registration @ Cinemapolis

    Pick up your badge. High-five some old friends. Meet some new ones.

  • 12:30-4 pm

    Upstate Discussions

    What if you had the chance to hear first-hand just how top Upstate design teams absolutely rock their projects? What would you ask them? That's what Upstate Discussions is all about: 4 sessions of focused conversations, led by the best design shops in the area. Sure, there'll be presentations, but the best part is the ensuing panel discussions where no question is off limits.

  • 7-11 pm

    Kick-off Party @ REV: Ithaca Startup Works

    Hosted by our good friends at AIGA Upstate New York, we'll celebrate coming together again, this time in Ithaca. Our Kickoff Party is always a must-attend part of the program, and this year we’ll have trivia, the Student Design Challenge, and the first two rounds of Cropped to kick things off.


May 5th

The main event, this year hosted by everyone's favorite design professor, Mitch Goldstein!

  • 8-9 am

    Registration @ State Theatre

    Pick up your badge (if you haven't already), grab some caffeine, and settle in to the State Theatre for an amazing day.

  • 9-10 am

    Gemma O’Brien

    Gemma O’Brien is an Australian artist specialising in lettering, illustration and typography. After completing a Bachelor of Design at the College of Fine Arts in Sydney, Gemma worked as an art director at Animal Logic and Fuel VFX before deciding to fly solo as a commercial illustrator in 2012. Her typographic work takes on a variety of forms, from calligraphic brushwork, illustration and digital type, to large scale hand-painted murals. She splits her time between advertising commissions, gallery shows, speaking engagements, and hosting hand-lettering workshops around the world. Her clients include Playboy Magazine, Nike, Volcom Stone, Kirin, Westfield, Heineken, QANTAS, and Diet Coke. A number of her projects have received the Award of Typographic Excellence from the New York Type Directors Club, in 2015 she was recognised as an ADC Young Gun and in 2016, named one of PRINT Magazine’s New Visual Artists: 15 under 30.

  • 10-11 am

    Street Fair / Break @ State Street

    30+ tables of Upstatery will fill the street directly outside the theater. Shop, create, and drum up conversation with your fellow attendees, right in the heart of Ithaca.

  • 11-12 pm

    Cap Watkins

    Cap Watkins is a product designer living and working in Brooklyn. He is currently the VP of Design at BuzzFeed, as well as a blogger, podcast guest, conference speaker, and lover of start-ups and technology. Cap believes in thoughtful, holistic design solutions that get out of the way and empower people to accomplish more. His past work includes Etsy, Zoosk, Formspring, and hush-hush stuff at Amazon.

  • 12-1:30 pm

    Lunch @ Press Bay Alley

    What makes tacos, fried chicken and gyros event better? Getting them from a food truck! Head on over to Press Bay Alley and grab some grub!

  • 1:30-2:30 pm

    Catt Small

    Catt is a product designer, game maker, and front-end web developer. She makes awesome things at Etsy. She has done design work for companies of all sizes including SoundCloud, Bedrocket, and Nasdaq. She started coding around the age of 10 and designing at the age of 15. In 2011, she graduated from SVA with a BFA in Graphic Design and later received an MS in Integrated Digital Media from NYU in 2016. Catt also makes video games with Brooklyn Gamery and organizes diversity and inclusion-focused events with Good for PoC. You can follow her @cattsmall on Twitter and view her work at

    New York City
  • 2:30-3:30 pm

    Street Fair / Break @ State Street

    Round 2 of the Street Fair! Stretch your legs and snag more goods for your workspace back home.

  • 3:30-4:30 pm

    Tad Carpenter

    Tad Carpenter is a designer, illustrator, author and educator based in Kansas City, Missouri. Carpenter co-runs the design and branding studio, Carpenter Collective with his wife, Jessica where they focus on bringing powerful messages to life through branding, packaging, illustration and design. They have worked with clients ranging from Target, Coca-Cola, Macy’s, Old Navy, Conan O'Brien, Adobe and MTV among many others. Carpenter has worked with numerous bands on poster and tour campaigns for over 10 years, as well as writing and illustrating over twenty children's books in our marketplace today. Tad also teaches graphic design at the University of Kansas.

  • 4:30-5 pm


    This is where we say goodbye. Not really, because there’s still the After Party and a whole 3rd day full of fun things to do around Ithaca!

  • 6-9 pm

    After Party @ Coltivare

    Join us for one more round of merriment at Coltivare, Ithaca's amazing culinary center. You won't want to miss the final two rounds of Cropped where we'll announce the winning team!


May 6th

Ever wish you had time to explore Ithaca? Do you often feel like conferences just kinda end abruptly? Stick around for Satur-YAY, where we'll be discovering the area together and cultivating the awesome relationships you've made. From brunch to hikes, this is a must for Upstate enthusiasts!

  • 9-11 am

    Hike @ Buttermilk Falls

    Buttermilk Creek descends more than 500 feet in a series of cascades and rapids. A natural pool at the base of Buttermilk Falls provides swimming with the feel of an old swimming hole. Upstream, a scenic trail circles Lake Treman. The park features 5 trails that wander through a remarkable variety of landscapes.

  • 11-2 pm

    Lunch / Brunch @ Ithaca Farmer's Market

    The Ithaca Farmers Market is an owner–operated cooperative market with over 160 members, who grow or produce their wares within 30 miles of the pavilion. You'll find a full spread at the market with something for everyone -- hot prepared foods for those in need of a meal, a full spread of vegetables, fruit, pastured meat, bakeries, and exceptionally crafted artisanal gifts for your loved ones.

  • 2-4 pm

    Brewery Tour @ Ithaca Beer Co.

    We’ll cap off the day with a round of high-fives and cheers to an amazing time at Ithaca Beer Co. They’ll give us a tour of their 20-year-old brewery, home to an amazing lineup of beers we’re all too familiar with here in Upstate NY.