2013: The Year in Events

2013 was another great year for events from Connecticut’s leading creative professional organizations. Events touched on relevant topics in design and business, celebrating superlative work and careers, and exploring art and culture outside of our nine-to-five box.

Alexander Isley Celebrates 25 Years

In 2013, Alexander Isley celebrated his Redding-based firm’s 25th year in business with a string of events, lectures, and celebrations.

First up, from February through April the Type Directors Club Gallery in NYC hosted “Working with Words,” a retrospective of Alex’s work from his early days at M&Co. and his design of Spy magazine up through his work of today.

On May 2, Alex was honored as the 2013 AIGA Fellow in recognition of his contributions to the profession in general and to the Connecticut design community in particular.

“It goes without saying that Alex’s contributions to design and the community are significant,” said Christian LoGrasso, current President of AIGA CT, “and his career-long involvement with and commitment to AIGA made him a unanimous choice for the award among our Board and all of our Fellows. We hosted an event in his honor at an event at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in his neighborhood of Ridgefield, CT, which was attended by guests and friends from around the state and country. Special remarks from Debbie Millman, Matteo Bologna, Ross MacDonald, Pamela Williams, Steven Heller and Kurt Andersen made for a truly special and memorable tribute. Alex’s influence and achievements have benefited the state and national creative community and we were proud to add him to the list of Chapter Fellows.”

It was a memorable night for the design community and a hot ticket as well; high demand forced the local fire marshal cut off ticket sales several weeks before the event.

In May, Alexander Isley Inc. and the AIGA Metro-North (now the “Brand Central”) chapter hosted an “Ocho de Mayo” open house at the studio’s offices in Redding. It was a great excuse for the local design community to get together and drink some margaritas.

Finally, the “Working with Words” exhibit traveled to the Donald & Linda Silpe Gallery at the University of Hartford Art School, where Alex gave a lecture on June 6.

The show was a nice way to wrap up a busy few months for the studio. As Isley said at the time, “I can’t believe it’s been 25 years since I first opened my doors in NYC. When I started out I really didn’t know what I was doing. Luckily, I still feel the same way — it’s what keeps me coming in to work every morning. I am incredibly grateful to the Connecticut design community who’ve welcomed us ever since the day we moved here back in 1995.”

Alexander Isley is offering to provide signed copies of his limited edition scored poster from the Silpe Gallery exhibit in exchange for a suggested donation of $15, which will be provided to the AIGA Connecticut chapter. Anyone interested please email poster@alexanderisley.com for more details.

AIGA CT // Inside Out: Outside Perspective from In-House Creatives // 1/24

“In 2013, AIGA Connecticut created the chapter’s first large scale event featuring content specifically for in-house creative teams and individuals,” said Christian LoGrasso, AIGA CT president.

“We were fortunate enough to collaborate with some of the state’s most exciting in house creative teams, including ESPN, LEGO CMA and Design Within Reach, with additional partnership from The Creative Group as our title sponsor. The event had a huge turnout, with over 120 people from CT, RI, NY, MA and VT.

“From a content standpoint, each team shared a short story with the audience about a unique facet of their respective roles and teams, and then participated in a panel discussion about building success in the in house environment. The audience was able to get varied perspective and see the diverse contrast that comes from each company’s unique culture, team structure and working style.”

Video of the night is on the AIGA national site: http://www.aiga.org/video-outside-perspective/

AIGA CT // 2013 Emerging Professional Workshop // 2/23

AIGA CT & TCG’s 2013 Emerging Professional Workshop presented insights on how to land a job and stay in-demand in today’s creative business environment. The workshop featured presentations from creatives at Digital Surgeons, The Creative Group, co:lab, Cigna, and Javier Romero Design Group.

“It was a great opportunity to be involved with new designers at the Emerging Professionals workshop,” said presenter Peter Sena, Founder of Digital Surgeons. “It was exciting to speak to young people in the field and discover their true personal interests. I noticed there’s a real increase in designers going towards and trying to be digital and seemingly ill-equipped from local state universities. I’d love to help change that one day.”

This year’s workshop has already been announced for February 22, 2014 at the University of Hartford. More details here.

CADC // Social Media Circus with Julia Balfour // 4/10 

Naming an event “Social Media Circus,” you have to expect a certain amount of vibrant, animated discussion. Last Spring’s event led by Julia Balfour, LLC was just that, and so much more. The CADC welcomed Julia and her social media specialist back for an encore performance of their two-woman show, extoling the attributes of various social media platforms to the designers, social media professionals, and creative minds of the CADC.

“We performed for the crowd a demonstration on how important it is for creatives to be on all social media platforms,” said Julia, “and how marketing on these platforms shouldn’t really feel like marketing at all, but sharing a lifestyle.”

The intimate crowd of about 30-40 people allowed for a customized discussion on finding a voice and lifestyle for a particular niche. “We wanted to stress the importance of creating a variety of content for your various platforms and being judicious with where you share. Tweet all about it! But make sure the message is right for Twitter.”

“We were honored to have the Social Media Circus hosted at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. Being in such an artistic venue added to the joy of leading a discussion with like-minded creative visionaries.”

Ever the social butterfly, Julia used this opportunity to make new connections and even organize future social media discussions. “I loved being asked the really hard questions by the crowd, like: how do you hire a social media specialist? Look for someone that can write well and knows how to connect to individuals and large groups with equal ease.”

CADC // Student Conference and Monica Wolff & Randall Smith Scholarship Competition // 4/20  

One inspiring event that each year brings together Connecticut’s creative community to guide the next generation of designers, photographers, illustrators, and visual communication professionals, is the CADC’s Student Conference and Monica Wolff & Randall Smith Scholarship Competition.

The 2013 conference, held at Central Connecticut State University, attracted 80+ students from Connecticut colleges and universities, and top level speakers from leading agencies and studios. The speakers included Aaron Kotowski, Photographer and Owner at Aaron Kotowski Studio, Dan Taylor, President and Creative Director at Taylor Design, Donna Bonato, Creative Director at Silver Creative Group, Luke Scott, Owner/Creative Director, MadisonMott and Stacey Dyer, Owner and Creative Director, Triple Frog LLC. 

“Each speaker had a different presentation style, sharing well honed insights and advice,” said organizer Rachel Rowan. “The topics ranged from how the speakers got started in design to what they look for when hiring, to what inspires their work. Aaron Kotowski’s photographs from a deeply personal project invoked awe and misty eyes. Dan Taylor shared how he landed his first job and gave excellent advice for students including; get digital, dig deep for great ideas and study the greats. Donna Bonato illustrated her presentation with drawings and told humorous stories about her career path. Luke Scott shared his perspective on how to land the right job. And not to be outdone, the energy level of Stacey Dyer, who spoke last, seemed to send a perceptable jolt through the audience.” 

“The Conference is very much a joint venture between the CADC and student volunteers. The CADC worked with Central Connecticut State University student Brian Young, President of the Graphic Design Club, to procure the venue, organize AV, determine seating and dining, as well as the many other event logistics. The flawless execution was directly attributed to Brian’s efforts. The conference graphics were generously designed by the 2012 Design Scholarship Winner, Jessie Sattler, from the Hartford Art School/ University of Hartford.”

This year’s conference has already been announced for April 5, 2014, at the University of Connecticut. More details here.

AIGA CT // Nikki Villagomez: How Culture Affects Typography // 9/12

Designer, blogger, and typofile Nikki Villagomez came to The Grove in New Haven for a look into how culture affects the decision processes of every day life. For those who mix words with images, this is as crucial to the message we convey as it is fascinating to an observer of those processes. In her presentation, Nikki used pictures she has taken throughout her travels and talk about the comparisons (and contrasts) in type choices based on location.

“Nikki, a South Carolina native, packed the house at The Grove for a lively discussion centered around images submitted of signage found in Connecticut,” said Kim Barker-Craven, AIGA CT co-vice president and sustainability liaison. “It was a lot of fun because I think we unconsciously become a bit myopic in our view of the world based on where we live. Her narrative and comparison of signage here versus elsewhere provided for a thought-provoking conversation about communication and language, design and life.”

CADC // Navigating Today’s Web // 9/26 

CADC presented a one-night mini-conference with three Connecticut agency owners — Peter Cena, Brian Miller and Tom Lewek — who spoke to such topics as responsive design, device-agnostic design, information architecture and advanced web typography.

“I think it’s safe to say that the event was a success,” said presenter Tom Lewek. “I received plenty of positive feedback on all of the presentations, with many attendees requesting a copy of our slide decks. It was great to finally see and meet in-person many of the online local creatives we see through Twitter conversations and avatars. Hearing Brian and Pete speak so eloquently and passionately about their respective topics was definitely inspiring to me and I can imagine left a lasting impression on the young designers in the crowd.”

“I have to admit I was extremely nervous about speaking to a large group, but I’m taking away from it an amazing experience to be able to connect and convey my ideas to the community, and hope to have more opportunities to do it again in the future!”

CADC // Park Rd. Studio Crawl // 10/23

“The third CADC Studio Crawl took place in the quaint little town of West Hartford in the Park Road district,” said Jason Cheshire, an art director at GO media and a CADC board member. “Attendees arrived at our offices for a meet and greet cocktail hour and view of Hartford from the roof deck. From there everyone made their way to one of the local ink establishments, Shamrock Tattoo, and a couple of crawlers even left with some fresh ink.”

“A short walk up the street to J. Rene Coffee Roasters was a true eye opener. Everyone was treated to the ‘art’ of brewing coffee with the Roasters’ distinctive lab equipment-like brewing methods and world ranked latte artiste, Jesus Gomez. Everyone was also treated to the incredible photography of the very talented Lanny Nagler, a local, professional photographer, who had his work on display inside.”

“The next stop on the tour was The Playhouse on Park, ‘where the parking is free, actors are right off Broadway and the back row is just four seats from the stage.’ After a quick tour and learning that Art Garfunkel had recently played a 4-night stint to kick off his new album everyone picked up their jaws and headed out to the next studio.”

“Fresh Ink is a screen print shop that proved to be very informative. By far, Dave, the owner, took more questions than any other studio on the tour.”

“To cap off the night, the Taqueria Tavern played host to our group. A big thanks to everyone who opened their doors that night, a great time was had by all.”


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