AIGA Portfolio Festival with Lisa Babb
By AIGA August 18, 2020
AIGA Portfolio Festival with Lisa Babb
By AIGA August 18, 2020
AIGA Portfolio Festival with Lisa Babb
By AIGA August 18, 2020

AIGA’s Portfolio Festival continued with designer and educator Lisa Babb. She previously served as the Assistant Director of the Museum of Design Atlanta and was a graphic design professor at the Savannah College of Art and Design for over 10 years.

Lisa’s festival keynote elaborated on Making the Right Fit or Fitting In. To discover your people, you must put yourself out there. By finding your tribe, you can embrace your authentic self – and that’s when your best work is produced.

She began with an interactive exercise where participants developed a list to the following prompts:

I am…
I care deeply about…
My dream job or opportunity is… (details matter)
My design is… (go bold, go big) How does your work evolve when you’re at your best?

It’s important to connect these four lists. What sticks? How do you show up? Cross out what is right now, which should provide more clarity.

Lisa encouraged everyone to take risks. One of her favorite quotes is: “In fact, you really know how to create a powerful totality of experience and you are ready.”

Reflecting upon her design journey, she gravitated towards unusual jobs that weren't necessarily the right fit. She kept trying to adapt. Creativity on demand was difficult. Over time, she realized her calling was serving as an advocate who champions the power of design to non-designers. Her dream opportunity was to encourage people to expand their minds.

Education is not limited to the classroom. It includes every experience – bad, good or indifferent. Below are Lisa’s suggestions on getting closer to the perfect fit:

1. It is a journey. You have to prepare.
2. You must identify it and allow it to evolve.
3. Every stop on the journey should be one where you learn.
4. Always do your homework.
5. The right fit isn’t necessarily the easy fit.
6. Remember who you are.
7. Show up and show out.

Questions and Answers
How do you check out an employer when you can’t go to their office and observe?

Answer: Information is everywhere. Consult Glass Door. Reach out to others who worked there. Sift through the bias and other filters to determine if a potential employer is right for you.

How do you deal with rejection? 

A: She has encountered no more than most people, and she still thinks about the ones that stung the most. It is brutal. Choices are made from unknown factors we can’t control. Show up as your best self. If they don’t want you, then they are doing you a favor.

How do you know if there even is a place where you fit?

A: At first, you may not know. It’s a never-ending quest. Look at your team and at the end of every day, examine your thoughts. If you’re wading through more negativity than positive thoughts, make some changes.

What do you mean by showing your soul?

A: Look at work that feels like the creator meant it. The work meant the world to them. Connect with the message and the reason why it was created. Think of design as a translator and also about connections and mapping.

How do you deal with being the one designer in an un-designy place?

A: It is not easy to make people realize the value of white space and restraint of typefaces. Don’t teach the client to design – show them how good design makes their lives easier.

How do you help people understand their design?

A: Who you are informs that. It’s how you show up in the world. It’s an extension of you. Be authentic.

How do older people keep reinventing themselves? 

A: Knowledge and wisdom come with age. If the stories you want to read aren’t there, write them. There is so much to design in this world right now. Get out there and do it. We need to honor our elders through design.

Takeaways from the portfolio reviews:
Illustrators are very important to the industry.

Museums are huge influences. There should be many future exhibitions on COVID-19.

Poster formula: It starts with the horizontal line, combining vertical lines, angles and curves. Don’t forget the white space. 

There is no one size fits all. If people don’t get it, then they aren’t your folks.

The publication experience is so much about branding.

Tips for getting freelance clients: it really corresponds with your personality. You can directly solicit clients, but nothing beats word of mouth. Cast the widest net possible. You will benefit by showing the work – especially before and after shots. Let clients know how smart design adds to the story. Protect yourself through a contract since managing expectations is challenging. Be sure to use the AIGA resources, especially for contracts. 

Tags Portfolio Festival