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Because of AIGA » » connections + growth = more connections



This project was created by:
Bill Klingensmith
AIGA UPSTNY - Past President | Current Member

Jeff Barlow
AIGA Seattle - Past President | Current Member

connections + growth = more connections

i have grown with AIGA and because of it. i’ve made so many connections, it really has already inspired me along the arc of my career – and i’m not even mid-career!

i joined in 1994 because, as a fresh graduate living in the suburbs of new york city, i wanted to be a part of something greater than myself. i didn’t know anyone in the field, so i went to a few NY chapter events. i found immediately that connecting with others who are doing what i’m doing is helpful when our job is essentially to communicate.

i had my sights set on boston, and moved in 1995 for a job at houghton mifflin. it was only a month before i volunteered for the boston chapter because i had an idea for augmenting their events that i expressed to fritz klaetke, an event producer at that time. that one phone call has opened a thousand doors (and led to freelance work from fritz). a few months later, i joined the boston board because i wanted to network more concertedly, and they needed someone outgoing to run membership. over the next two years, because of the contacts i had made, i decided to start my own studio, shifting away from maintaining a full-time job plus freelancing nights and weekends. during that time, i had also grown the membership base so successfully that i was invited to go to my first leadership retreat.

at that retreat in 1997, i met ric, denise, george, other members of the national staff, and quickly realized how accessible they are – there is no us/them, and there is no boundary for sharing ideas or casual conversation. over years of retreats i’ve met luminaries from around the country who have mentored and inspired me, and in time, have become my friends: sam shelton, sean adams, noreen morioka, marc english, debbie millman, kenna kay, michael bierut, terry marks, kathy fredrickson, matt pashko. matt interviewed me for a book about what inspires designers, called inspirability, and i’m in the table of contents across from milton glaser, a genius of the profession. kenna (and her staff at tvland) produced a video about AIGA, and i’m in it talking about being inspired.

so when i relocated to providence, rhode island in 2004, needless to say i was inspired to start a chapter – mostly because there wasn’t one. it was thrilling to have collected the necessary 20 signatures to galvanize the efforts. five years in, we have 200 members, so obviously there was a need for a hub around which everyone can coalesce. i see how the chapter has shaped the community by starting and sustaining both individual and group relationships, and sparking the dialogue with other relevant design organizations. now my goal is to coordinate efforts and events on a regional level among 5 new england chapters.

along the way, i’ve met stefan sagmeister – one of my heroes – because i volunteered to help bring him to lecture in boston; we went record shopping, and he talked about designing for music at a radio station where i knew the dj. years later he came to rhode island and i invited one of his students, my friend and collaborator randy hunt, to introduce him. i met maira kalman when she was talking in boston, and after a two-minute conversation, she invited me to her home for dinner. sean adams recommended i jury the charlotte chapter’s regional design competition (my first), and has recently nominated me to be on the board nominating committee.

i used to feel nervous to approach people, let alone anyone perceived to be famous. i’ve come to realize that AIGA levels the playing field: designers are people too. i’ve made friends across the country, clustered around where there are chapters. as chapters continue to form, i look forward to the opportunities of meeting new people. with 24,000 members internationally, you’re bound to connect with someone who shares your experience – or wants to. and there’s no limit to the value of making connections.

Josh Silverman | Rhode Island

One Response

  1. Lee Moody Says:

    Josh, you said it so well….I can almost say ditto. I remember when I first got in the paper business and was automatically an AIGA member thru work….then I started to attend and now I am on the board of a few chapters. It is a fun way to take the serious edge off of work…because AIGA members and different chapters are so committed to sharing and getting to know each other ! Everyone is nice…which I guess sounds kind of lame…but hey…everyone I meet is REALLY NICE !!!
    Lee- Mohawk Fine Papers

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