GO West! AIGA Leadership Retreat Recap: Part 2

Day two of the retreat began with another general session in which Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City spoke about the importance of design to a city.

“Design goes to the core of how we feel about a city. It’s at the heart of the quality of experiences people have.”
-Ralph Becker, Mayor of Salt Lake City

Next we heard from AIGA President Doug Powell on the centennial celebration of AIGA. AIGA was founded in 1914, so we are two years away from our 100th Anniversary. Doug outlined the guiding principles in planning the celebration:

  • Its not just a birthday, it’s a year long celebration
  • Must engage chapters and individual members
  • It’s not just about the history, it’s about the future
  • Will leverage existing events, programs, and platforms
  • Undertake special projects that advance design and AIGA
  • Opportunity to position the new AIGA

It will be a year of celebrations, big and small, centered around existing events. At the chapter level, we will develop our own programs to celebrate. Special Programming Ideas include:

  • Book about AIGA history and 100 years of design practice
  • Time Capsule with contributions from each chapter and individuals
  • Unusual Suspects, local design histories project
  • Fund-raising, and ambitions capital campaign?

Following Doug’s presentation on the centennial, Ric Grefe, Executive Director of AIGA added that AIGA 100 is a celebration of design, of it’s visibility ,of the power of design, and it’s value.

To round out the morning’s general session were the first two presentations of chapter “Inspiration Stories”. First was AIGA Toledo who spoke about their public art campaign, “You Are Here.”

The objective of the campaign was to promote positivity and a sense of place in the community. They partnered with the Arts Commission who receives 1% of tax revenue to fund the arts.

AIGA Toledo strives to create a different story of Toledo. In 2010 they participated in the Urban Forest Project, and in 2011 they worked on the Downtown Windows project which fills windows of rundown buildings with art.

The Arts Commission came to them to partner on 2012 project. Instead of creating banners to hang round the city, the created one-of-a-kind street dots to promote positivity and enhance sense of space. 100 3-foot dots were designed by 100 artists and placed in 100 locations around Toldeo. The dots were placed in historical/cultural locations. Each had a QR code that lead to info about the location. They worked with local libraries and historians to get the facts.

The chapter held a launch party where each artist received a 9-inch replica of their dot. They introduced a custom “You Are Here” app and a map that had all the dots on the back and showed the location of each dot. They encouraged a scavenger hunt where the first to collect photos of all the dots won a silk-screened poster. They had 149 downloads of the app and 7 posters were awarded. It was a very successful campaign.

The next inspiration story was by our very own Matt Munoz, who presented on the success of our chapter’s focus on community engagement. (See the slides)

Following the general session we broke up to attend more breakout sessions. This time I attended “The Art of OrnaEvents” presented by AIGA Cleveland. The chapter’s most successful event is the annual “Art of the Ornament” silent auction. Members of the community are invited to create a hanging Christmas ornament to be auctioned off. Marketing of the event begins 6 months in advance and there is continuous PR of the event. They’ve turned a great idea into a well-oiled machine. And they shared their tips on planning big events like this one.

They establish a 3-person program board, and keep the roles well-defined. The board plans the work flow. The director works with the chapter president and finance chair, is the strategic lead, and delegates tasks. The administrator and assistant administrator are the tactical team. The administrator watches the money, books vendors, and keeps in contact with them. The assistant handles summaries, timelines, and the speaker agenda.

After the breakout sessions it was time for lunch. We had the option of lunching on our own or joining one of the topic-based lunch sessions. We were able to sign up for the lunch topics during registration for the retreat. I attended the Communications/PR/social medialunch, which just happened to be at Squatter’s Pub (yup, third time there, didn’t mind as it was so good!).

After lunch  we had our first team working session. During registration for the retreat we were asked to select from one of four topics—increasing opportunities for member-contributed content, Design for Good, INitiative, or AIGA Centennial—to which we would be assigned to a team that would brainstorm ideas about the topic. At the final session of the retreat, groups had the opportunity to present their ideas. I was in one of the groups assigned to develop ideas for increasing opportunities for members to contribute content. My group quickly came up with an idea that would take what we all are already doing on social media—sharing content, ideas and inspiration— and aggregate it in one place. They key to collecting the content is the use of the hashtag #inspiredesign in all social media posts you wanted to contribute to AIGA.

Following our team working session, we heard two more inspiration stories. The first was from AIGA Western Michigan who spoke about their Design-a-thon. The Design-a-thon is a Design for Good event that lasted 24 hours. The chapter shared their “Top 5 tips for running a 24 hour event”:

  • Schedule a clean-up crew that hasn’t been awake for 30 hours.
  • Do not try to fix education in 24 hours
  • Work with non-profits who have a strong leader.
  • Don’t schedule yoga breaks 30 minute prior to a critique.
  • Go ahead and make the executive director of the organization cry (with joy).

The next presentation was from AIGA Portland who spoke about their Brian Food project. The project was in partnership with the Right Brain Initiative that aligned the creative community to help bring the arts back to local public schools. It was a two-part event featuring speakers from multiple industries who shared how vital creativity is to their work. Part two consisted of small groups collaborating to dream up Brain Food challenges. Brain Food is a children’s activity deck that helps kids develop creative and critical thinking skills.

Following the inspiration stories Adobe gave a presentation, which I missed because I had signed up to attend a group session to learn about the etouches event management system AIGA is partnering with. Another long day had come to a close and after a brief we all boarded buses to attend the evening reception, sponsored by Shutterstock at the Natural History Museum of Utah. It was an absolutely amazing venue with an incredible view. Oh and the food, delicious! After the party we boarded the buses again to head back to The Grand America. Groups split up and went to a late dinner at various restaurants. We joined a group totaling about 40 and headed to Takashi for sushi.

By Amy Lyons
Published June 13, 2012