American Institute of Graphic Arts: Bringing Design to the World

Rachel Pukall

AIGA is the American Institute for Graphic Arts, which is an international organization for graphic artists. It is the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design and it allows for graphic artists to find jobs, network, and discover design.

“AIGA creates opportunities for students to learn and network in the experiences of graphic design beyond the classroom,” said Stuart Morris, faculty advisor of AIGA.

Dana Vanden Boogart, a senior majoring in graphic design and the president of the organization, wanted to be a part of AIGA for many reasons. “I really wanted to get as involved as I could with graphic design, not only because it’s my career path but because I am also very passionate about it,” Vanden Boogart said. “I felt AIGA would be a good way to further involve myself in the design community.”

Another reason Vanden Boogart decided to join was to make herself more aware of her opportunities as a designer.

“I get to learn about portfolio reviews, I get feedback and network from other graphic artists, as well as find internships and job opportunities all because of it,” Vanden Boogart said.

“I also chose to be an AIGA officer for our student chapter because I wanted to take a leadership role within the program as much as I could to spread my love for design to other students.”

The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point has one of the most active and well known student chapters in the Midwest.

“I think that UWSP has a very active chapter because of the importance we place around it. Professors, officers, and other students seem to have good experiences with AIGA within our chapter and it continues to spread down to the newer students,” Vanden Boogart said.

“The officers and faculty try to recruit students by giving them information and letting them know how great of an opportunity AIGA really is, which helps keep our chapter strong.”

AIGA holds officer meetings weekly where they plan the events for the year.

“As officers, we are constantly trying to build off of and make better what was done the year before,” Vanden Boogart said.

The UWSP AIGA hosts two conferences each year: Real World Design and NowHere.

At Real World Design, alumni come back and present on their careerjourneys so far. There are also a few workshops and portfolio reviews which are given to help students improve their skills.

NowHere is an ambitious conference that brings not only alumni, but national and international design professionals to campus to create a weekend of learning and demonstrations on how to improve design skills.

“This is also a great time to network with professionals who have many connections,” Vanden Boogart said. “During this conference we do two day long workshops with the ‘big name’ artists, listen to the artists’ presentations, ask questions, and alumni come back to present and give portfolio reviews, and we also have a more local artist come and give a half day workshop.”

AIGA also sends a group of students each fall to AIGA Minnesota’s annual Design Camp, which is located in Nisswa, Minn.

“The UWSP AIGA chapter has been known for consistently bringing the largest student body to the camp, usually around 30 students,” Vanden Boogart said.

AIGA also coordinates fun outings with the chapter such as bowling, a Halloween party, and more. Portfolio reviews in Milwaukee, Appleton, and the Twin Cities are also something that AIGA organizes and promotes for the students.

“It’s great to watch the growth that happens around and through AIGA events and activities,” Morris said.

Currently, the officers are surveying the students who are in AIGA to get a better understanding of why exactly they are in it.

“We know some students are just in it for the resume builder, but other students want to participate,” Vanden Boogart said.

Some of the students who are in the organization don’t know exactly how they can utilize their membership, so the officers are asking questions based on participation and how they would like to learn about events.

“We are working especially hard this year to promote our events in a way that is easy for our students to get the information, and what is most effective in informing them about our events,” Vanden Boogart said. 

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