Of the many events you attend during your lifetime, one or two are likely to be forever memorable. That’s because a blend of their location, who was there, and what happened, tugged at your emotions so strongly they became a part of you and you a part of them.
That happened to me in 1963, the seventh year the Miami Conference of Communication Arts was held on the University of Miami campus in Coral Gables, Florida. The conference was the brainchild of Wilson Hicks, who had retired to Coral Gables after serving as executive editor of Life Magazine, and Morris Gordon, director of communications at Western Electric Corporation, in New York City.
The conference was the answer to a question they asked themselves: What would happen if they invited some of the world’s best photographers, art directors, and publishers to gather for three days in late April and have them share their experiences and knowledge with other professionals of like-kind?
It was a small conference with rarely more than about 40 presenters and 150 attendees. The real story, however, went far beyond those numbers. To the attendees, meeting the presenters, and having conversations, sometimes lasting well into the night, was mind-changing and unforgettable. The presenters, many of whom were internationally known, came from magazines, newspapers, and broadcasting. Their talent and creativity were so compelling that merely being in their presence was a gift of a lifetime.
After attending that first year, I considered it so critical to my profession, that I continued to attend until the last one in 1975, the year after both Hicks and Gordon had passed away. Left in the wake, however, were hundreds of attendees who had been inspired by what they heard and who they met.
The quotes below were spoken by a few of the many presenters I heard at the conference over the years. Although I don’t list their credentials, I assure you that at the time, each of them either created or were directly responsible for much of what Americans were reading and seeing in newspapers and magazines.
It’s never too late to be what you might have been. — Lawrence Schiller
If you want people to admire you, then for God’s sake, do something admirable. — Lawrence Mihlon
The mark of a truly educated man is not that he knows the answers but that he knows the questions. — Charles Reynolds
There’s no such thing as a burned-out person. — Robert Guiccione
I shoot photographs on the border of failure. That way, if its’s good, it’s really good. If it’s bad, there’s no doubt that it’s too bad to use. — Gordon Parks
Creativity is a function of individual integrity. — Brewster Ghiselin
What makes life astonishing is what goes on inside people’s heads, not the things on the outside. — David Cort
People are yearning for the permanent moment. — George Hunt
If you never offend anybody, you had better take your pulse. If you’re living, you offend people. — Herb Lubalin
There’s no reason for our existence the minute we stop interpreting and learning. — Arnold Newman
Too many Americans are in a state of weightlessness – fat, dumb, and happy. — Howard Sochurek
Controversy and vitality are the two sides of the editorial coin. — Arthur Rothstein
Being alive is not a matter of breathing. — Flip Schulke
Skill creates craftsmanship. — Paul Huf
Seeing can be deceiving because we see things subjectively based on our experiences. — Len Stern
Perhaps what is really new is only what is newly understood. — Sid Grossman