AIGA Philadelphia is Philadelphia's local chapter of AIGA, the nation's oldest and largest professional association for Graphic Design and related design disciplines. A long-time supporter of DesignPhiladelphia, AIGA has packed its schedule with events aimed at the festival. Most notably, they have Bill and Jim Moran from the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum coming all the way from Wisconsin to hold hands-on letterpress workshops and demonstrations on Oct 11 and 12. You can read more about AIGA Philly in our interview with the team below.
1. Tell us about the history of AIGA and it's current role in the Philadelphia Graphic Arts community.
We are a community of practicing designers and design enthusiasts. Our mission is to advance design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. AIGA is the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design, with 69 chapters and more than 25,000 members nationwide. AIGA Philadelphia, the first local chapter, was established in 1981. We represent a variety of professions under the umbrella of communication design, ranging from book and type design to interactive design and experience design. Presently our chapter is comprised of over 600 members.
AIGA Philadelphia is a completely volunteer-run organization. We rely on the passion and commitment of our members to make our chapter the active force it is in the local design community. We have worked hard over the past few years to develop a diverse and full slate of lectures, workshops and social events. We strive to create programming that appeals to designers throughout the arc of their careers, as well as those that simply have a passion for design.
2. You have a few DesignPhiladelphia events coming up. Tell us a little about them and why they are must-see events.
Our first event is the Adobe Muse workshop on 10/11. It's offered for free through a collaboration with Adobe and DesignPhiladelphia. It's a must see because April Clark is one of Adobe's best trainers, and watching her easily create a webpage while writing ZERO lines of code is fascinating. While it will not replace the web-designer/developer, it's a tool worth investigating.
On October 11 & 12, AIGA Philly welcomes Bill and Jim Moran from the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum to Philadelphia for hands-on letterpress workshops, exhibitions, and the Old City Festival. The exhibit, running through the month of October, is a must see for a number of people: collectors looking for affordably priced rare printing ephemera; fans of typography, letterpress printing, and design; and finally history buffs, entrepreneurs and museums studies who want to learn how a thriving museum dedicated to a unique art-form grew from a historic factory in today's economy, bucking all trends.
You can add the exhibit to your schedule of DesignPhiladelphia events here.
On Saturday, October 11th, we are holding three intimate workshops at the Common Press with Bill and Jim. These should be mandatory for any design student in the area, and a rare opportunity for anyone in interested in the art of Letterpress printing, fans and newbies alike. The Common Press is a working museum, much like Hamilton Wood Type. Attendees will gain experience with a variety printing presses, all under the direction of two if it's best practitioners. All stuffiness aside, getting your hands dirty with wood type is fun, and Bill and Jim's passion is inspiring. Unless you live in Two Rivers WI or visit for Wayzgoose, this is likely your only chance to learn from them first-hand.
The Hamilton Wood Type Intensive is Saturday, October 11 from 10AM-12PM, register here.
On October 12, AIGA Philly and Hamilton Wood Type are taking center stage at the Old City Fest. Why is this a must see? Besides a tent full of awesome design goodies and more time hangin' with Bill and Jim...With the help of Next Fab, we are running some limited edition steamroller prints down the street. We thought table-top presses, but kids want more flash these days.
Finally, we are happy to co-sponsor the DrawBot workshop with the awesome peeps of the Hacktory on October 14th, thanks to Ashley Pigford. The Hacktory works at the cross-section of making and technology. Build your own website, check. Design your own letterpress print, check. Build your own drawing robot, check. Makes sense? Need we say more?
Click here for more information on the drawBot workshop.
3. Can you tell us more about the inspiration for bringing Hamilton Wood Type to Philly?
Nick Prestileo, President AIGA Philadelphia, "Why not? Seriously, this is a long answer. Go find your favorite beverage and get comfortable. My passion for broadsides and printed communication prevalent from the 1600s to the early Twentieth Century initially led me to them. So the affection for letterpress is natural. They have been on our bucket list for a while. I am not a super fan, never been to Wisconsin or attended Wayzgoose, but have seen Bill and Jim speak a number of times over the years, and kept tabs on their growth. Students are still surprised when I mention there is a working museum dedicated to preservation of wood type, open to anyone. Second, ideas don't materialize in a silo. There is a huge letterpress community in the Delaware Valley. Skilled practitioners, aficionados, and fans with expert knowledge of the art form, extending the limitations of the field and/or refining the craft. There are a wealth of local shops producing great work over the years, including Raven Press, The Common Press, Lead Graffiti, Thomas Printers, Paper Meets Press, Two Paperdolls (originators of the thebeautyofletterpress.com and longtime HWT supporters), Cleanwash, Emulsion Works, and the Pointed Press. When AIGA Philly first started discussing the idea of bringing the HWT here, people jumped out of the woodwork to assist, most already having close ties HWT. It's amazing. All local. Special thanks to Kevin McLaughlin and Craig Welsh for the initial help and advice.
Second, ideas don't materialize in a silo. There is a huge letterpress community in the Delaware Valley. Skilled practitioners, aficionados, and fans with expert knowledge of the art form are extending the limitations of the field and/or refining the craft. There are a wealth of local shops producing great work over the years, including Raven Press, The Common Press, Lead Graffiti, Thomas Printers, Paper Meets Press, Two Paperdolls (originators of the thebeautyofletterpress.com and longtime HWT supporters), Cleanwash, Emulsion Works, and the Pointed Press. When AIGA Philly first started discussing the idea of bringing the HWT here, people jumped out of the woodwork to assist, most already having close ties HWT. It's amazing. All local. Special thanks to Kevin McLaughlin and Craig Welsh for the initial help and advice.
Finally, we have an awesome team at AIGA Philly. We work together to realize ideas. Many board members and volunteers had a direct part in the process, and everyone contributes somehow. Programing Directors Ashley Pigford and Robb Leef built this idea into an actual weekend of events. Both are serious admirers of letterpress, experienced practitioners, active in the design community, and prime examples of "makers". Lauren Dougherty, Gina Kernan, Gaby Heit, Julie Showers, Stef Sutton, Belinda Haikes, Kelly Getz, Ryan Bednar, and Fabienne Banczak also fit the bill, and without them, the idea would have fizzled out last spring. AIGA Philly is a volunteer organization I am proud to be a member of."
4. AIGA Philly seems to put together a lot of workshops for designers. Do you feel that you are serving the maker community in Philly? Do you think we'll continue seeing a trend of growth in the design and maker communities over the next 5-10 years?
Philadelphia is hub for makers, innovators, design thinkers, and skilled craftsmen who take pride in the process as much as the result. Creating things is part of Philadelphia’s heritage. We have no qualms combining analog traditions with digital techniques. People are pursuing their passions, using the tools they best understand at hand. We see this all through the community, and in our membership. As a professional organization for design, we must offer content that helps the local design community along the various points of their career. Over the next 5–10 years, more designers will be leaders of interdisciplinary project teams, Chief Creative Officers at various companies, successful independent business owners, skilled craftsmen working at exacting levels of detail, and multi-disciplinary visionaries. So being more in touch with the makers, entrepreneurs, aficionados, and geeks is imperative. Offering the platforms to challenge people to rise to their potential is essential. Combining forces where possible is in the best interest of everyone. We've spent the last few years building these bridges, and there are many still to make. Everyone wants to create, and be a maker in Philly. Expect to see much more from this community in coming years.
5. What events can we look forward to this fall?
This Fall, we brought back our popular Pop-up Happy Hour Series hosted by local design studios. These events happen monthly on the third Friday of the month and are great way to meet AIGA members and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of some of Philly’s leading design studios. Next month’s happy hour will be hosted by GDLOFT in the Crane Arts building. This coincides with the DesignPhiladelphia Closing Party at the same location, so we hope to have a great turnout!
We also have our annual Open Studio Tours for Students in early November (Nov. 4-6th). Over the course of three evenings, local design students have the opportunity to tour local design agencies and get answers to all their burning questions.
In mid-November, we will be awarding the 2014 AIGA Fellow Award to Mark Willie. This award recognizes designers who have made a significant contribution to raising the standard of excellence within their local or regional design community as well as their local AIGA chapter. This is the highest honor an AIGA chapter may bestow upon one of its members. Mark is a full teaching professor of graphic design in the Department of Design at the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design, Drexel University and president emeritus of the AIGA Philadelphia. We are very excited to be hosting an awards reception (location to be announced) and be hosting an exhibition of Mark’s work at AIGA Philadelphia SPACE.
In December, we are bringing back our annual Pop-up Shop at AIGA Philadelphia SPACE. We turn our gallery into a shop just in time for the holidays. Look for some great pieces designed by members of the AIGA community, including items for the home, photography, custom prints, and jewelry.
Images courtesy of Adobe, AIGA, and DM+D.