Saturday, February 21, 2015

AIGA 2015

So, what do you want to do?

The AIGA student conference moved its program to the Sam Fox School of Visual Arts at Washington University this year.  Featured  presenters included Andy Mangold (Friends of the Web), Rick Valicenti (Thirst) and Wesley Hoffman (Treehouse Workshop). The  speakers were inspiring and worth seeing but the focus of this annual event is the portfolio review in which professionals agree to visit with students as they present their work. Ostensibly this is a rehearsal for the real world scenarios they might encounter as they enter the workforce.

The students are remarkable. The 20 minute sessions are too short to have a quality interview but plenty of time to create an impression. I had the pleasure of visiting with Maria Wei (UMSL), Ariel Biggerstaff (UMSL), Jamie Spencer (Maryville), Jordan Kilz (Missouri State) and Jorge Villagas (Lindenwood).  “So what do you want to do?” is the question I encourage each to consider as they begin their career journey. Clearly they are talented, motivated, tech savvy and smart enough to take this important step in preparing for the big bad world out there.

Maria spent two months in China with special needs children via Children’s Hope International. Ariel showed poise and laughed when I told her that people would remember her jet black hair and forearm rose tattoo – if not her tasteful nose ring.  Jamie was zeroing in on a magazine design and photography orientation. Her dream job would be with National Geographic but she and her twin sister are kicking around start up business ideas. Jordan is well on her way with nearly a yearlong internship at Noble Communications (Springfield, MO) under her belt. Jorge is a soccer player from Venezuela who blew out a knee. He knows that his career challenge includes the added hurdle of considering a path to U.S. Citizenship.

Ben Kiel, the AIGA education chair was not shy about standing on tabletops at the Walker Basement where the portfolio reviews were staged. The unfinished ceilings had a way of amplifying ambient sound. Nevertheless, he was heard. It was Ben who orchestrated the reviewers for whom he launched a round of applause. Kelcey Towell, the primary event manager, was instrumental making this year's AIGA conference a success. On behalf of all of us, AIGA Saint Louis – you too deserve a hearty round of applause. Bravo! 

Walker Basement at Washington University - AIGA portfolio review 
Andy Mangold at the Steinberg Auditorium 
Rick Valicenti  
Wesley Hoffman for Treehouse