An Eventful Year: 21* AIGA Chapter Events of 2011

Each year all across the country, AIGA chapters work hard to present invaluable, thought-provoking, one-of-a-kind events, where connections are formed, knowledge is learned and frontal lobes are activated. Asking them to choose a favorite is like asking a parent to name her favorite child. Still, we wanted to know: What was the biggest/best/proudest event your chapter hosted in 2011? Here are 21* great moments to revisit, in the words of those who made them happen.

*Actually, make that 25! We’ve added another four since we first posted this article on December 29. The more, the merrier!

AIGA Alaska

Our second annual award show, “The Big One,” went off with a bang this year. We enjoyed the Anchorage Museum as our new location and had a fully packed house. Event planning went smoothly as we implemented lots of new and more efficient ways to pull such a big event off. Yay, here’s to next year! For more events, check out AIGA Alaska on Facebook

AIGA Baltimore

AIGA Baltimore and Bernard Canniffe held a collaborative workshop called “Ideas for Action.” This was an opportunity for design professionals, students and other members of the community to work together to address social concerns in the Baltimore community. The workshop emphasized how small actions can have big effects.

AIGA Boston

The 2011 AIGA BostonBoNE (Best of New England) Show,” held biannually since 1995, once again showcased the extraordinary work of design professionals, educators, and students in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Held on June 9, 2011, in Boston, the show's theme, “Wicked Problems. Wicked Solutions,” focused on the problem-solving nature of design work, which was borne out by the winning work as selected by judges Ann Willoughby (Kansas City, MO), Bobby C. Martin, Jr. (New York, NY), and Jon Kolko (Austin, TX). Honored pieces were displayed in a traveling exhibition, published online, and featured in a handsome full-color hardcover book.

AIGA Colorado

For the fourth year in a row, AIGA Colorado hosted “Bordo Bello,” a skateboard-deck-art fundraiser and silent auction for our mentorship programs. This year was our biggest to date, with more than 650 people in attendance, more than $18,000 raised during the one-night event, and more than 250 artists and designers—local, national and international—in participation (Debbie Millman, Chip Kidd, Matteo Bologna, Friends of Type, Mark Weaver, Aaron Draplin and Gary Baseman, to name a few). An online option for bidding allowed us to engage an even bigger audience. Evening entertainment included a DJ, break-dance crew, classic arcade games, T-shirt screenprinting, free drinks from Odell Brewing Co., and even a marriage proposal!


This year, AIGA DC hosted its fourth annual Design Continuum fundraiser as part of our ongoing efforts to provide scholarships to local design-minded students. This year’s masquerade-themed event featured Mark Randall of Worldstudio, past scholarship winners, and a diverse crowd of new and familiar faces. Thanks to the generous donations from the evening, we were able to meet our fundraising goal of $10,000 at this event that will go toward supporting the annual scholarship program or will become part of the nest egg for our future endowment. 

AIGA Dallas Fort Worth

Everything is bigger in Texas, and AIGA DFW’s biggest of the big for 2011 was our inaugural Dallas Design Week, with events featuring Debbie Millman, Roger Black, Bill Gardner, McGarrah Jessee plus many others, and finishing off with our AIGA Fellow award dinner inducting Dallas design legends Douglas May and Don Sibley. Design Week 2012 will be even bigger and better—keep an eye on for details!

AIGA Hampton Roads

One of the most successful events of 2011 by AIGA Hampton Roads, in Virginia, was entitled “Shameless Self Promotion.” We assembled a panel of five local experts in the fields of PR, SEO, photography, copy writing and social media—all areas that can aid designers in the promotion of their freelance or corporate careers, but that we may need guidance with. The result was a beyond-sold-out event (we expected about 30 people and had standing-room-only at about 70), which has now led to the development of similar advice-oriented event tracks such as our morning “Rise and Design” series and our upcoming “Assembly Required” series dedicated to in-house designers.


AIGA Iowa hosted a bookbinding workshop during our third annual Design Month in October, and it was so popular that we are planning to host another one in the spring. Attendees were able to create a dozen mini-books and fold origami boxes to arrange them in. The creative juices flowed, and everyone left with great ideas on how to use their new skills in future projects. Photos from the event can be found on Facebook; follow us on Twitter at @aigaiowa.

AIGA Jacksonville

Expanding on one of our most popular events, in both participation and attendance, AIGA Jacksonville’s “Always Summer Poster Show + Mix Tape” event became the “Always Summer Weekend.” We kicked off on Friday, September 30, with speaker Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Co. (DDC), who presented his acclaimed talk, “Tall Tales from a Large Man,” in which he shared personal stories about life-changing events, projects and conquests that were raw, real and incredible. On the following night, the “Always Summer Poster Show +Mix Tape” event featured roughly 80 locally designed and contributed music posters—a record number—and more than 150 attendees. Combined it was an inspiring, rejuvenating experience that provided encouraging words from Aaron Draplin with the creative liberties of a client-free project to add up to a fun, action-packed weekend.

AIGA Knoxville

AIGA Knoxville’s greatest achievement in 2011 was the success of Design Week in May. It featured five days of event programming designed to reconnect and galvanize our creative community and then together reach outward to the East Tennessee community. We awarded our first AIGA Fellow award to a local veteran designer, had students from local universities document their day at a local studio while we streamed it in real-time on Tumblr, and held panel conversations about contemporary issues in design, open studios and workshops the rest of the week. Visit the AIGA Knoxville website and Facebook page to learn more.

AIGA Minnesota

Design Camp”—AIGA Minnesota’s 31st annual pilgrimage to the woods of Northern Minnesota for three days of presentations, workshops and socializing—was our watershed 2011 event. In recent years, “Design Camp” had become heavily student-centric, but in 2011 we successfully shifted its focus toward more professional design issues by including a three-part professional practice workshop, presentations by five national design leaders, and emphasis on the wide range of work our profession includes — from illustration to advertising, product to pro bono. We also attracted attendees from across the United States, Canada, and one person from Chile. Follow us on Twitter at @aigamn.

AIGA Nebraska

Value of Design: A Case Study” is AIGA Nebraska’s most concerted effort yet to connect the dots between design and business value. We recruited three of Nebraska’s smartest design firms and freelancers, who each selected a client they’ve had a close partnership with. At the event, each designer/client team presented a comprehensive recap of their working relationship and hard evidence of both design and business success. 

AIGA New Orleans

This year AIGA New Orleans modified our traditional members-only party to be more open and inspiration driven. Instead of a traditional “holiday party,” we opted for an event that invited three presenters from around our region to come in and give a short presentation about the successes they experienced over the last year and what keeps them inspired and producing good and valuable work. The party was held on the rooftop of a newly renovated building, which provided sweeping views of downtown New Orleans and the Mississippi River. The exclamation point of the evening was provided by the amazingly talented Debbie Millman, who shared with us her own personal journey with AIGA and continued leadership role within the design community.

AIGA New York

Our aim with AIGA/NY’s “My Dog & Pony V: Fundraising Edition” was to leverage the success of prior “My Dog & Pony” events (in which presenters typically shared past pitch work) while also seeking to expand our audience beyond the design community. On the eve of Brooklyn Beta, we asked four candid and visionary speakers to share how they were raising money to fund their creative projects: Adam Leibsohn of Voyurl, Archie Lee Coates IV of +Pool, Ben Pieratt of Svpply and Ben Nabors of The Happy Film. We were happy to hear that this event resonated among our attendees—and hope that this signals a groundswell in designers pursuing entrepreneurial endeavors.

AIGA Oklahoma

AIGA Oklahoma’s best event for 2011 was the creative workshop taught by Stefan Mumaw, author of Caffeine for the Creative Mind. This was the first workshop we have put on during business hours, which proved to be a challenge for some but a well-deserved break for those who were able to attend. The workshop was incredibly fun and insightful for worn-out creative minds!

AIGA Raleigh

AIGA Raleigh’s second annual “Merry Mingle” was a huge success. The event was a joint collaboration between AIGA, AAF, AMA and TIMA. The event brought the creative community together to socialize, network and raise money for a local charity that provides bikes to underprivileged kids. It was not only a great step toward uniting the local creative community but showed how we can band together for a good cause while celebrating the holidays.

AIGA Reno/Tahoe

At “Typewalk” AIGA Reno/Tahoe members set out to explore the seedy underbelly of Reno typography. Attendees captured the true spirit of Reno through the typography used in signage, posters and neon lights throughout the downtown area. Photography from the evening was then repurposed for a limited-edition series of posters.

AIGA Richmond

Good design is alive and well in Richmond, Virginia. In March 2011, AIGA Richmond proudly organized the Greater Richmond Awards of Design Excellence (GRADE) for the sixth time. Judges Jen Sterling, Vernon Lockhart and Ross Nover chose the best of more than 300 entries, with the best collected in a letterpress-covered exhibition catalog. Follow us on Twitter: @aigarichmond.

AIGA San Francisco

AIGA SF’s revamped two-day “Compostmodern” conference attracted more than 600 attendees. Day 1 featured 17 speakers such as Debera Johnson, founder of the Pratt Design Incubator; Marc Mathieu, founder of BeDo; and Bruce Mau, chief creative officer of Bruce Mau Design. Day 2, an “Unconference,” allowed attendees to meet and collaborate on projects and topics of their own creation along with conference speakers and fellows. Watch videos here.

AIGA Santa Barbara

AIGA Santa Barbara’s biggest/best/proudest event of 2011 was an exclusive screening of The Life and Work of Marian Bantjes, Graphic Artist, prior to’s official release of the documentary. Co-founders Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin introduced the film and followed with a Q&A. The event was held at 240 Studio, a 3300-sq.-ft. commercial photo studio, and more than 100 people attended.

AIGA Seattle

In September, AIGA Seattle held “HIVE 2011”, a one day conference exploring the value of design in technology. Not only did this event attract new sponsorship opportunities from companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon; this event also positioned AIGA as a thought leader in the interactive space. Combining a diverse series of speakers and workshops, “HIVE ’11” effectively created a  unique bridge between designers, managers and developers in the tech sector—capturing both where this group is currently at and where it is headed in the future. See videos here.

AIGA South Dakota

AIGA South Dakota organized an artistic food drive where teams were tasked with collecting nonperishable food donations and using them to create a sculpture. Sculptures were on display at the local mall where the public could vote for their favorite, as well as donate nonperishable food items or money. All donations and food from the sculptures (2.4 tons of food and $100) were given to Feeding South Dakota at the end of the event, and made a huge impact for the hungry in our communities.

AIGA St. Louis

The first annual STL Design Week, presented by AIGA St. Louis, kicked off with an incredible opening night. To honor photographer Scott Raffe’s cancer fight we raised $10,977 for pancreatic cancer research with an exclusive, one-time-only circus performance by the legendary Zoppe family, Tino Wallenda, Vince Bruce and Circus Flora members; a concert by musician Erin Bode; a photography and art auction; three food trucks, a sneaky good cocktail, cotton candy and Gus’ Pretzels, all in a historic theater that was perfect for the packed house.

AIGA Toledo

Design for free? Yup, we asked 20 committed and caring members of our design community to join us in March for our third annual “Design Charrette.” As a way for AIGA Toledo to give back to our community, designers, web developers and writers came together in a focused kamikaze-like action, and in one day developed a complete identity system, website and collateral materials for Claire’s Day, a local nonprofit organization in need.

AIGA Vermont

This year we hosted our first “Annual Suds Summit Membership Meeting” at Magic Hat Brewery! We started with a tasting and a tour (this place looks like Mardi Gras threw up all over it) and concluded with break-out groups focused on gathering input for future chapter initiatives. Members left with custom-designed pint glasses and confidence that our small chapter is moving and growing! Find AIGA Vermont on Facebook.