30 Years Strong Into 2020

It is an exciting time as AIGA Portland sprints into 2020, which marks our 30th year anniversary as a chapter and non-profit. We’ve come a long way since our inception in 1990. Having served on the board of directors for nearly five years, I have experienced some truly transformative years for this organization.

There is the persistent challenge to adapt to the ever-shifting atmosphere of this weird and wonderful city we live in. Since 2018, we’ve been engaging with our community (AIGA members, non-members, volunteers and partners) to receive feedback about what/how our organization has been producing, and also to gain insight on what the community feels is still lacking and desired. We’ve used this feedback and insight to help steer our team in the right strategic direction into 2019 and beyond.

As we take a moment to reflect on the past year, I am extremely proud of what our team of volunteers has been able to achieve. Here are some of our highlights and favorite moments from this past year.

Supported motherhood in the design industry

Our Women Lead committee organized two more installments of Wholly Mother, an event series that brought together moms and mom-identifying folks from all different stages of motherhood to connect, learn, and celebrate in a supportive and safe environment. At Wholly Mother: Vent & Vector we heard from a panel of moms/designers who offered their wisdom, laughter, and freedom to be honest with yourself. At our Wholly Mother: The Art of Connection event we invited On Your Feet, an improvisational theater, to facilitate activities with moms and their children.

Redirected our aim towards equity and inclusion

The decision to change AIGA Portland’s Diversity & Inclusion initiative to Equity & Inclusion is to shift the focus and expectation of our goal to building equity. Attracting and retaining diversity is the byproduct of having an equitable and inclusive environment and we should be focusing on the infrastructure that will set us up for success.

In addition, our Equity and Inclusion Director, Simon Sotelo, started a newsletter that delivers community news, content, and events for BIPOC creatives.

Celebrated Portland’s pioneers of pride

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, which marked the beginning of queer liberation, the AIGA Portland Design for Good (led by former director, Maria Nocenti) and Wilde Town collaborated with 25 gay rights pioneers who championed visibility, equality and inclusion in Portland. We captured stories of their contributions from the first legislative guide to gay rights, to the world’s longest-running drag performance. We showcased Design artifacts by artists that spotlight the activists’ profound efforts at an exhibition in the Galeria at PLACE with the intent to help empower people of all generations, orientations and gender identities with the tools to be themselves and stay out.

Helped students prepare for the real world

We hosted our 3rd annual student portfolio review, THE MIX at R/GA. Our team set up round-table discussions to provide a space for honest, constructive feedback from industry leaders. The conversations were similar to entry-level interviews, all with the purpose of providing an authentic dialogue and understanding of what design agencies are looking for in recent graduates.

Showcased 20 years of Nike communication design

We got to experience the IMPRESSIONS OF SPORT: 20 Years of Nike Communication Design visual showcase to get a glimpse into some of the unforgettable communication design Nike has authored. We enjoyed a presentation from Nike’s VP of Brand Innovation, Greg Hoffman. I had the pleasure of working with the Nike Global Brand Innovation team to bring this showcase to the AIGA and the local community. Thank you to Nike for your partnership.

Started a new club for book lovers

AIGA Portland Secretary, Jennifer Pantages, started the AIGA Portland Design Book Club event series, which explores a variety of topics focused on design history, theory and practice. Everyone is invited to join us at our next Book Club meeting. Here’s a reading list of what we’ve read so far:

  • Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
  • Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
  • The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  • The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry
  • Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon MacKenzie

Curated a multi-sensory experience

During Design Week Portland 2019, we brought together mixologists, sound designers and visual artists to create multi-sensory experiences in the rooms of Jupiter Next Hotel. We asked these teams to explore how sound and visual design can be used to amplify the experience of three featured cocktails. The result was a deepened sensory experience as a whole. Amplifier was curated by AIGA Portland Special Events Director, Marilee Sweeney.

Ventured into creative offices

Design agencies Ziba and Work & Co opened up their doors for our Studio Tours expeditions. Our attendees got an exclusive look at some case study work and got a guided tour of the office spaces. Studio Tours continues to be a popular series as it always offers an exciting opportunity to get a feel for the design environment and culture of Portland.

Played and socialized at dMob

We had several variations of our favorite social meetup, dMob, in 2019. One of which was our annual free t-shirt printing party, dMob dLux. We partnered with Friends of Noise to support youth music performers. We teamed up with REACH Community Development to facilitate discussions about housing and community in Portland. We gamified dMob with a VR experience with the help of Shovels and Whiskey. During the holiday season, we collaborated with 52 Limited to collage artwork which we delivered to Randall Children’s Hospital over the holidays, along with donations we collected from our attendees.

What’s in store for 2020?

This year you will see more installments from familiar series such as Studio Tours and dMob, and we are excited to share that THE MIX portfolio review will be back this year as well. We will continue to focus our efforts towards our core initiatives: Women Lead, Design For Good, Equity & Inclusion, and Professional Development.

Education Director, Brandon Waybright, has led the charge in bringing back Career Tools after a hiatus. These events are designed to foster professional development through experiential learning. We’ve already unveiled this month’s Career Tools workshop on science fiction prototyping. In addition to collaborative workshops, we will be launching a Career Tools website that will be a curated content library offering immediate and unlimited access to tools, methods, and other resources relevant to professional designers.

We choose to make our events open to the public because we recognize that membership with AIGA is a choice. Membership is a major variable that affects our chapter’s funding. We want to connect further with individuals who support and value our efforts through their membership. We provide benefits such as discounts on events, services and products, and offer exclusive access to new job opportunities. However, we are committed to finding more ways to give back. Our Membership Director, Duncan Lawerence, is bringing back Member Meetups as a way to engage more directly with our community of supporters.

AIGA Portland, in addition to supporting design interests and education on an individual level, is also committed to supporting organizations, who like us, are serving the local design community. By working with like-minded organizations on community initiatives and projects, AIGA Portland can extend its reach and support beyond our member base to better serve the creative community.

We know 2020 is going to be a great year. There are exciting projects in the works that we can not wait to share with you.

Happy New Year!

Monica Mo
Vice President | AIGA Portland

*Photo by Matthew Taylor


Thank you to our current and former board members

Salvador Orara, Jennifer Pantages, Max Radi, Marilee Sweeney, Simon Sotelo, Lindsey Charlet, Carrie Grant, Duncan Lawrence, Brandon Waybright, Maria Nocenti, Katie Lane, Anita Magaña, Martha Lewis, Tanith Yates, Gillian Windisch, Kyle Hinze, Mike Biewer, Josh Barrett


Thank you to our amazing volunteers

Abel Quintero, Adam Trabold, AJ Park, Alexandra Brennan, Alise Munson, Allen Kroger, Amanda Beemer, Anette Signorelli, Angela Espersen, Audrey Desler, Carl Barrett, Celina Coppetti, Charles Bergenstock, Dala Botha, Dala Botha, Demi Hanes, Denise Olsen, Devon Huck, Elise Englert, Ellen Skiff, Eric Mellencamp, Erin Lynch, Faith Hardersen, Gracie Koester, Halle C, Holly Schnackenberg, Isabella Contino, Jamon Sin, Janie Faison, Jason Miller, Jeni Schmidt, Jessica Brown, June Hammer Walitzer, Krista Joy Johnson, Lane Kinkade, Lisa Johnson-Smith, M. E. Souser, Melissa Gillett, Michael Banicho, Michelle Roberts, Natasha Joseph, Ned Keenan, Randy Mishler, Ron Cox, Ryan Smythe, Salomée Souag, Sanjana Sachdeva, Sarah Hutchins, Sarah Lane Ferguson, Shawn Schmidt, Stephanie Ward, Steven Tatar, Whitney Clark, Xela Gold
By Monica Mo
Published January 8, 2020
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