So Choice

This year’s SHOW featured the best graphic design work in the state. Designers entered, they were judged by three tough critics, and if lucky, they won an award or two. JKDC won three this year. One being the highly-coveted Judge’s Choice, awarded by Lakota graphic designer and advocate Sadie Red Wing.

Many thanks to AIGA Nebraska for putting on another great event. They always do such a nice job.

See you next year!

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Starter Kit: Making This Design Thing Matter

AIGA | UNO is proud to present Starter: Kit Design Talks; a speaker series focused on helping upcoming graphic designers and students learn the processes of graphic design from professionals in our community and outside of it. Our second speaker is independent designer and cofounder of Round And Round, Justin Kemerling.

This Friday: How principles can lead to doing the work you love. A story of pursuit, independence, activism, and keeping it weird from the middle of America. I’ll be talking about design activism, politics, making your community better, self-initiated projects, and what it’s like to run your own independent practice. 

Friday, November 17, 2017 @ 3 pm
Milo Bail Student Center

SHOW me your design awards

The organization is Nebraska’s chapter of AIGA. The event is called SHOW. The purpose is to celebrate the best design the state has to offer. And in 2017, it all went down at KANEKO. It was pretty neat. The judges were particularly good this year. The talks they gave before opening the winners exhibition were well-timed for the moment. Way better than the standard fare of I’m a designer and this is my design work.

Jessica Arana recently launched Across Borders: A Look at the Work of Latinx Designers. She has a background in cultural studies, art, social justice, education, and activism. Her talk was on the importance of storytelling and pulling together the pieces of your particular story. In her case, being both Mexican and American and being able to to re-imagine and rewrite the personal and the cultural. From the pink kitchen walls of her grandmother’s home in Mexico to the way her father dreamed with a chicken on his head. More on Reveling Borderland Identities.

Robyn Kanner had the best punk rock intro to an AIGA talk ever. She co-founded MyTransHealth, said bathroom signs are not enough, and asked designers to show the fuck up. (Posters are also not enough.) Yes, the election made us all want to cry and flying into Omaha means being on flights with people who are definitely not bored with trans people. Are you ready to get to work and give money to black trans women? Read more in TGD.

Timothy Hykes co-founded the Design + Diversity conference in St. Louis and created 28 Days of Black Designers. If you’re black and you want to be a designer you have to want it as much as you want to breathe. Yes, black people make up only 3% of the design community so you have to be better than good, you have to be great. When Charlottesville happened, with all the tiki torches and the chanting, he wanted to know why people hated him and what he ever did to them. But we’re designers, we stand together, and we can ultimately create a more beautiful world for everyone living in it.

Also, JKDC won a few awards:

I’m very proud of all this design work. But I’m particularly proud of the clients it was created for: do-gooders and changemakers in our community working hard to make things better.

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Judging The BIG One

The BIG One is Alaska’s Annual Design Competition. I was on a panel of established designers from the Lower 48 who judged the submissions this year. It was super tough! Lots of stellar work up there, as you can see from the 2016 winners. But I did it, scoring is a wrap, completed by the deadline. Stellar poster design, solid logos, wonderful environments, and compelling books. And this website, which is probably my favorite piece from the competition. AIGA Alaska put everything together. Give a shout here.

Antionette Carroll: Designing Inclusion & Equity

AIGA Nebraska has a couple great events coming up this week. Founder of the Creative Reaction Lab Antionette Carroll is visiting Omaha to talk inclusion and equity. She started AIGA National’s Diversity and Inclusion Initiative and will help further our local chapter’s mission to Embrace, Engage, and Empower the community. I’m very excited to learn more.

Lecture: Antionette Carroll
Friday, April 14, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
The Omaha Community Playhouse

Workshop: Designing Inclusion & Equity
Saturday, April 15, 2017 @ 8 am
Malcolm X Center

2,608 Miles

It’s a long journey from Omaha to Anchorage. Exactly 2,607.99 miles separate the two cities. I just returned back to the OMA from the ANC where I presented to AIGA Alaska. A round table discussion over lunch and an evening lecture about my work and approach. I met some really great people and shared a story of pursuit, independence, activism, and keeping it weird in the middle of America. 

Overall, Alaska is insanely beautiful. It was great to experience its vast landscape of mountain peaks and frozen oceans at the tale end of winter—blinding white snow crunching under foot and a burning bright sun beating down. My wife Katie made the journey too. We were able to connect with our longtime friend, fellow designer, collaborator, and Alaska resident Jontue Hollingsworth who helped show us some sights.

The roundtable discussion was casual. On the topic of going from raising awareness to moving people to action. We talked client relationships, measuring success, scope creep, and communicating to diverse audiences. The evening lecture was in an old theater in downtown Anchorage. It was an intimate setting on a stage furnished with the retro set of its current play. I presented on how principles can lead to doing the work you love, how my graphic design manifests itself along the way, and what five core projects look like at a deeper level. The audience was attentive and the Q&A time was thoughtful and broad. On community, inspiration, process, and politics.

The city and the pace reminded me a little of Lincoln. The designers who attended were young and old. They worked as freelancers, in small agencies, and at nonprofits. At dinner we commiserated about people who don’t quite know where either of our states are. At some point in our lives, we’ve had to explain to folks that no, we don’t all live in igloos or tipis. That Alaska is not an island and Nebraska does not have mountains. Good times all around.

Definitely make the trip to the 49th state in the union at some point in your life. You will not be disappointed. Whether for the sights, winter activities, fine food and drink, or welcoming residents. I’m so glad AIGA Alaska extended the invitation. I enjoyed sharing why I think making this design thing matter is key. Getting to meet another design community with lots of passion and interest in making things better, just one more example of the inherent desire of designers to use our talents for something bigger than ourselves.