Transplanted from Upstate New York Straight into Event Planning at AIGA Raleigh

I moved to Durham, NC, in mid-February, and by early April I was on board with the planning efforts for the AIGA Raleigh edition of the AIGA Centennial. Wow, that was fast! But I was in. I found myself co-chairing the planning committee for the AIGA Raleigh celebration of AIGA Centennial, along with Caryn Sterling, a mere two months after moving to the Triangle. New to the area, with only a few familiar faces around, I thought I was out of my mind getting myself into deep waters right from the beginning. But it turned out to be a rewarding experience. And one that anyone could consider and succeed in.

Shortly after Homegrown: Handmade Packaging with Andy Kurtts, I was contemplating the return of all things handmade, and the trend to incorporate handmade designs into commercial work or at least to convey a handmade look. The Sign Painters movie, the screening of which AIGA Raleigh hosted earlier this year, carried a similar sentiment. It dawned on me that in a digital era of ever-dominating technology people crave the comforting look and feel of things handmade. And I was reminded that about a century ago, the United States saw the arrival of Arts & Crafts Movement, which at the time was a reaction to mechanization, industrialization, and automation in design and production. Perhaps for the first time I truly understood that as designers we not only are part of design history, but we make design history, and we design the future that others will inherit. That, for me, was reason enough to get involved in organizing a celebratory event to mark the 100th birthday of AIGA National. But I also quickly became deeply interested in the local— the Triangle, NC— aspect of design history, since it has become apparent that my new home is ripe with design heritage, design potential, and a rich design community.

The key to turning a somewhat intimidating idea of event planning—especially in a new place of residence—into a rewarding experience lies in finding passion for the event. Once we generate deep interest in the event, its shape becomes clear, and it is then easier to tackle the technical aspects. In the case of planning events for AIGA Raleigh, the board offers a great amount of assistance. The chapter makes available extensive documentation about event planning and samples of materials from past events. Need to decide on a venue? There! A list of local possibilities is handed to you. Need a contact person for a given company or organization? Most likely one of the board members will have a suggestion how to connect and introduce you. Need to bounce ideas off of someone? The board meetings are open to everyone, and event planners are very welcome. There is no shortage of resources and help.

While I will certainly not relax completely until after the Centennial celebration event, I have developed a reasonable level of comfort to carry on. With the co-leadership of Caryn Sterling, and the time and effort offered by a great team of volunteers on the planning committee—Lydia Kuekes, Cindy McQueen, Sean Paul Adams, and Taylor Owens—I think chances are good there will be fun to be had at the AIGA Raleigh celebration of AIGA Centennial.

Oh, what the celebratory event will be, you ask? Stay tuned for details about a dinner party in September and a juried design exhibition ahead of it!

By Basia Coulter
Published May 25, 2014