Franke+Fiorella’s learnings from AIGA Design Camp 2018

AIGA-Design-Camp-2018-recap

Each fall, the designers on Franke+Fiorella’s team take a step away from the drawing board and make our way up North for AIGA’s Design Camp. Below we review our favorite takeaways from the keynote speakers on branding inspiration and insights. We have a feeling they'll be relevant to you and your team, too.

But first we should note, when we say camp, it’s not what you’re thinking. In fact, we join hundreds of creative professionals to take in keynotes from highly acclaimed speakers and attend educational workshops in design and creative thinking. We just do so in Minnesota style: we proudly sport flannels instead of business attire and end the days at a lakeside bonfire rather than at a city hotel. Now onto the learnings!

1. Details matter.

This comes from David Hartman, the Senior Creative Director—Target. You may have heard of Archer Farms, Up+Up or Room Essentials; David is one of the minds who crafts and launches each brand story and design.

With the multitude of brands Target houses, they rely heavily on the details as each logo, style, narrative and overarching campaign works to form a unique brand and contribute to the beloved “Target run and done” experience. It’s the sum of the details that allows the brands to feel authentic and satisfy the consumer.

2. Work with and for people you like.

From the huge scale of Target and Facebook, to the more intimate projects with entrepreneurs and social causes, designer Lauren Dickens has learned a thing or two on collaboration and to whom to say yes. A key takeaway from her message is to surround yourself with coworkers you like and say yes to projects and clients for which you’d like to work. This profoundly impacts what type of work you create and your ability to be creative.

3. Stay humble and pay it forward.

Though Gail Anderson has one of the longest, most acclaimed resumes a designer could have, in her keynote, she didn’t talk as much about her own work. Instead she emphasized that no matter who it was and regardless of the reward, she was willing to work hard with people. It paid off: her eventual collaborators include some of the biggest names in design—co-writing with Steven Heller, grabbing lunch with Milton Glaser and studying with Paula Scher. And her accolades include recognition from the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, AIGA Medalist and 2008 Richard Award recipient.

4. Stay true to your brand and trust your authenticity will attract the right people.

Brands work hard to be seen as authentic. What art director, illustrator and animator Zipeng Zhu revealed is the focus should shift.

Yes, working hard is important, but he focused on working hard at projects that felt authentic to him. After working through several long nights and harsh work challenges, each project he put out would inspire another new client to call asking for more of it. He both created what he loved and attracted the right people to support it.

5. Be patient and persevere through this crazy maze of life

Illustrator Andy Pizza hosts a popular podcast we highly recommend, “Creative Pep Talk.” Andy left many jaws dropped to the floor as our last keynote speaker by sharing his story on how his career came to be.

A key takeaway from Andy was the importance of patience and perseverance. He told story after story of how even when he did the “right things” he would hit rock bottom. However, after a lot of time and effort his career worked out in an even better way than he could hope, now with a huge following and a multitude awesome clients. His conclusion was that we can’t skip the harsh maze we are struggling through to get to the end result. This journey is what forms us. And eventually, this process truly does pay off.


We look forward to seeing how these messages and the work we examined will impact our projects this year and beyond. If you didn’t attend the conference, we hope by following some of these influential people, you can also be inspired.

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