The Return of AIGA Kent State

The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) is a professional organization for design. AIGA Kent State, the student group, has a long history with the School of Visual Communication. But during the COVID pandemic and remote classes era, the group dwindled and lay dormant. Here's how it came back to life, filling a valuable space in the student experience and what are the plans for the future, as told by Audrey Pierson, president of the resurrected chapter.

As we are a newly re-instated chapter, our main focus is to strengthen a sense of community within the Kent VCD program. All of us on the board are in our third or fourth years. We started our program during the pandemic, where online classes were the norm. Even after restrictions were lifted, we saw and felt the hesitancy to stay in the building and meet other students. By building a consistent schedule of programming for our members, with a variety of different types of events, we have allowed a safe and comfortable space for students to meet each other in a social and professional sense.

We are currently in the process of booking several speakers and workshops this semester and we will be encouraging our members and all VCD students to attend the AIGA Portfolio Review, which will be hosted by AIGA CLE in April. This will be an amazing opportunity for students to have their portfolio reviewed by industry professionals.

One very exciting thing that is happening on February 2-4 is that members of the AIGA KSU board will be traveling to NYC for the NY NOW trade show. This is an industry-only event, except for students, so we will be having the unique opportunity to listen to panels and witness how wholesale buying works. We will also be attending the AIGA NYC National Gallery as well as the Museum of Modern Art during our trip.

VCD Alum Susan Hazel Rich '06 shows students her workshop

We learned about the NY NOW trade show from VCD alum Susan Hazel Rich ‘06 who came to speak about her journey post-graduation during her talk this past fall. She has exhibited at the NY NOW show in the past. She also talked about the various types of jobs she held before starting her business, Hazelmade. 

Hazelmade is her line of paper and home goods which feature illustrations that she draws herself by hand. Sustainability and USA made are two of the many things that Susan prides herself and her brand on. Her talk was an amazing opportunity for students to see how much effort and time goes into building a business. Susan was very realistic and honest in recounting her successes as well as failures throughout her professional career. 

The next week after her talk AIGA Kent State members toured her studio, which is located in the newly renovated Sanford building in downtown Kent. There she showed us around her studio as well as how products start as sketches or ideas, and then how they are manufactured and packaged.  She also showed us how she was transitioning between her old packaging/branding to her new ones and the rationale behind it. Susan was very open and honest in answering all student questions and she gave us realistic insight on how the design industry works. It was an amazing experience for students to have the space to ask these types of questions, and we are looking forward to continuing to work with Susan in the future.

The main thing I would like students to know is that they do not have to be an official member of AIGA KSU to attend our meetings. All our events are open to any student, regardless of major. Our main goal as a chapter is to strengthen the design community at Kent State, and to be a safe space where anyone interested in design can meet each other and enjoy our events.

To learn more about AIGA Kent, visit their page at KSU Engage.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 31, 2024 05:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2024 05:33 PM