2011 was another great year for events from Connecticut’s leading creatives and creative professional organizations — here are some of the highlights. All remain relevant in the new year, as most if not all are continuing the dialogue and creativity through sequel events in 2012.
AIGA CT’s Breakfast Epiphany events in 2011 saw the likes of Wilson Camelo, Karl Heine, Amy Graver, Brent Robertson, Alpesh Bhatt, Richard Rose, Troy Monroe, Jack Tom, John Dankosky and Anne Cubberly cover topics such as Hispanic marketing, letterpress, pursuing your passions, “how to talk to people” and becoming a creative mentor.
“When we say ‘join us for a rousing conversation’ — as we do in many an email promotion — we deliver,” says Suzi Craig, Programming & Events chair of AIGA CT. “The Breakfast Epiphany event is one of my favorite AIGA Connecticut events because it is always unexpected and always amazing. We take an interesting person, ask them to talk about something near and dear to who they are, and then we let the conversation rip.”
“Depending on who shows up — and it has ran the gamut, from graphic designers to race car drivers and architects to nonprofit leaders — the conversation can take some really deep twists and turns and it can also offer up perspectives that you may not find when attending an event with only those from your industry. Something AIGA Connecticut is passionate about is opening up the conversation of ‘design’ and ‘creativity’ to those beyond our world. This event helps feed the opportunity to talk about design and creativity in all its forms, and allows for us to examine how we can each have our own impact on the world when we see possibility through this lens.”
Up next: Troy Monroe’s sequel talk, Passion with a Plan, Part 2, at CO:LAB on February 9.
AIGA Connecticut invited all to the Yale University School of Art, for an open discussion about culture, happiness, consumerism, design and the future of the planet.
“I love that The Living Principles Almanac — that Mohawk produced with Gaby Brink — states at the end: ‘Got what you need out your Living Principles Almanac? Give it another cycle before you recycle. Pass this book on to a friend. Continue the loop.’ That is what Shed exemplified,” says Lee Moody, Mohawk Fine Papers New England & Eastern Canada Business Development Manager. “Think about what you buy, reuse, recycle, compost, rethink, reinvent — all we do can go a long way toward preserving and extending our common resources.”
“We were all so excited to have an AIGA chapter in Connecticut,” continues Lee, “so that we all could connect with the AIGA Center for Sustainable Design. Mohawk partnered with them for a year, and gave $1000 to each chapter of AIGA across the United States — and the world — to help promote design as a powerful conduit for change. The Living Principles for Design is the first integrated blueprint that connects Cultural Vitality, Environmental Protection, Social Equity, and Economic Health.”
“AIGA Connecticut connected with some powerful speakers that presented this broader concept to the audience at Yale. The room was packed. People were asking questions. People were offering choices. It was about using more creativity and less stuff.”
“Don’t drive distracted” was the theme of 2011′s competition, and Connecticut creatives were invited to submit concepts for 14′ x 48′ billboards to promote this theme. Winning entries received cash prizes and the first place design was displayed on digital billboards across the state.
Avid Marketing Group, in Rocky Hill captured the Grand Prize as well as third place. Coming in third was “Distracted Driving Kills,” designed by Emily Buck, which shows a distraught accident victim behind police tape emblazoned with the message “Distracted Driving Kills.” The Grand Prize Winning concept was “Monkeyin’ Around,” whose simple message of “Quit Monkeyin’ Around – Just Drive” was perfectly visualized by the whimsical artwork of illustrator and designer Chris Gunderson.
While the final designs were executed by Buck and Gunderson, AMG’s success was a true team effort. “From brainstorming the initial concepts, to copywriting and ongoing critiques, the entire team at AMG was involved,” explained AMG Vice President DeAnna Drapeau, “Hearing the judges echo our internal discussions just confirmed how much that process improved the final creative.” AMG’s history of success at previous Ad Club Outdoor Competitions also include winning first place in 2008 and second place in 2009.
This year’s event is set for February 29. The 2012 Theme: Search Local, Save Local, Buy Local… support your local businesses and the local economy.
The CADC invited eight forward-thinking Connecticut creatives to visually answer the question, “How does creativity personally affect social responsibility and change?” Each of the contributors — Peter Good, Anita Soos, Jody Dole, Noemi Kearns, Woody Ford, John Nordyke, Liz & Eric Panke and Vaughn Fender — donated their 18″ x 24″ work to be displayed and auctioned off the night of the event.
Contributor Peter Good sums up the night: “When the CADC was formed, back in the last century, our primary intent was to create a forum of sorts so that designers and art directors could talk shop, compare notes, and inspire and support each other. The GR8 exhibit was exactly the kind of event that was sympatico with that idea. Ironically, an early proposed name for a CADC newsletter was called “Mix” — the apt quality of the GR8 event.”
Another GR8 event is coming in March; watch the CADC site for details.
The Student Conference and Scholarship Competition is held once a year at a select Connecticut college or university. Host schools have included Sacred Heart University, The Hartford Art School, and Central Connecticut State University; this year will be the first to be held at SASD, University of Bridgeport. It is free and open to all Connecticut undergrads.
“The conference format has been fairly consistent since [its inception]” says Jack Tom, who worked on the very first conference in 2000. “Speakers from all relevant creative areas (design, art direction, illustration, photography, etc.), portfolio reviews, scholarships, free giveaways from sponsors (Mohawk, etc.), and of course the free admission, free breakfast (coffee, donuts and bagels) and free pizza lunch.”
This year the speakers were Dan Taylor, Brent Robertson, John La Rock, kHyal and Karl Heine.
“The speakers give a lot of good information for students to use,” continues Jack. “It’s always nice to see professionals donate their time to come talk and share their experiences with students. I know it takes a lot of effort by the CADC Board to put together this annual event, but I’m glad they kept the torch burning every year for it.”
The Fellow award program is a means of recognizing mature designers who have made a significant contribution to raising the standards of excellence in practice and conduct within their local or regional design community as well as in their local AIGA chapter. The areas of education, writing, leadership and reputation, as well as the practice of design are given equal consideration in measuring significant contribution.
After Peter Good’s 2009 win, Designer, Leader and Master Craftsman Michael Scricco was the second recipient of the AIGA Connecticut Fellow Award. Attendees heard speakers and saw a video presentation of design from Mike’s ample legacy, along with anecdotes from designers who know Mike well and have had the benefit of his stewardship.
“There was no way I was going to miss the evening honoring Mike as an AIGA Fellow,” says Alexander Isley. “He’s done so much for the creative community, and not just in Connecticut. The outpouring of respect and appreciation was inspiring and heartening. He’s influenced so many people.”
The next honoree is Pam Williams of Williams and House — who is on the AIGA CT Advisory Board and who is a veteran of the national Board — in April 2012. Watch the AIGA CT website for details.
Since 2007, PUSH has partnered with masterful individuals and companies to produce career-critical communication design events and workshops — offering intensive hands-on learning opportunities in core competencies for creative professionals. In 2011, PUSH went mobile with Design Camp on Block Island. Campers reveled in nature with like-minded creative professionals for three days of hedonistic play and design learning.
“Push Design Camp 2011 was the ‘perfect storm’ of scheduled inspirational events, enlightened discussions, exotic flavors, ideal mix of personalities, peaceful bicycle journeys and superb, high-summer weather,” says Mary Ellen Butkus, Vice President / Senior Designer at TFI Envision. “From discovering typography along nature’s trails, to unique temporary sculptures from found beach objects and laughing along the way – we rediscovered imaginativeness and the joy of an idealized summer camp for grown up creative kids like us.”
This year’s is already in the works, same place, same dates, so watch their website for more information.
Designer Patti Murphy of Seed Factory is a resident artist at Hygienic Art Galleries in New London. When she was charged with putting on an art show, her mind turned quickly to showcasing design work, something Hygienic hasn’t done in the past.
The theme Murphy landed on, “Hang in There,” came with a double meaning. “I really like the idea of hanging art on hangers,” says Murphy. “It is a simple solution to decorating homes and workspaces — easily hanging something that you like or prints that you’ve purchased.”
“And I love collecting positive words, quotes, illustrations and images — I think, as designers, we are taught and trained how to evoke or represent a certain emotion or feeling, and I thought it would be interesting to see how each designer will create something that they see as uplifting or positive.”
The show displayed (and offered for sale) 12×18 posters by a variety of Connecticut and Rhode Island designers and artists, including Patti herself, Susan Hickman, Kat Murphy, Troy Monroe, Mark Bevington, Tomaz Kazmierczak, Julia Balfour, Katie Kerrigan, Vaughn Fender, Eric Panke, Nick Healy, John Lepak, Magdalena Lutoborska, Richard Hollant, Tracie Valentino, Karli Hendrickson, Chris Piacik and Noemi Zalanski.
“I chose the participating artists based on who I have collaborated, connected with or worked with before,” says Murphy. “Though sometimes we are all competing for clients, this is a great opportunity to come together as a community of designers and create artwork for each other and ourselves.”
The historic October snowstorm of 2011 — that left over a million New England households and businesses without power — was a stroke of bad luck for the Oil Drum Art Reunion-Fundraiser. However, over 100 attendees still came and enjoyed an evening of camaraderie, fine food and wine, jazz, and art.
Old dog Jack Lardis organized the event as a benefit for his organization Oil Drum Art, a not-for-profit grass roots art movement that seeks to change human patterns through meaningful artworks. A self-proclaimed “once-in-a-career opportunity,” Young Turks vs. Old Dogs was a reunion / networking event to give younger creatives in the state the opportunity, according to Lardis, to “rub elbows with the old guard. And vice versa.”
“There are three ex-advertising people on the Oil Drum Art Board,” continues Lardis. “Dave Murphy, one of the Directors, came up with the idea to have a small reunion of ad people as a fundraiser. We thought it was a great idea and it quickly mushroomed to a major event with all four major ad and design clubs co-sponsoring the event.”
“We hope it becomes a yearly reunion that will get better and better,” says Lardis.
They just better watch out for those October snowstorms.
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