By Emma Castleberry
Asheville is now home to the 75th chapter of AIGA, the world’s oldest and largest professional association for design. AIGA has more than 25,000 members with varying backgrounds, fields and levels of experience. “It’s for any professional whose role brings them in connection with designers, which includes photographers, illustrators, copywriters, printers, architects and a myriad of others,” says Reggie Tidwell, founding president of AIGA Asheville. “It’s also for those that appreciate art, design and the business of design.”
Tidwell served on the board of the AIGA St. Louis chapter for three years before he moved to Asheville in 2003. “I immediately missed what AIGA brought to my life: community, resources, exposure and reach,” he says. Tidwell looked into starting an Asheville chapter, but didn’t think he’d be able to gather enough momentum with what was then a very small design community in Asheville. “Fast forward to 2019, and Asheville’s design and creative professional community has grown considerably through the efforts of the AdClub, Design Salon and the Media Arts Project,” he says. “Everything culminated perfectly for this to be the year to start AIGA Asheville.”
AIGA Asheville currently boasts nearly 70 members. “It’s a great resource both for professional development and community,” says vice president Alyssa Phillips, owner and graphic designer at Amp’d Designs. “It’s sort of like a certification. If you’re a member of AIGA, you know what you’re doing.”
In addition to providing an important professional engagement for Asheville’s robust design community, the AIGA Asheville chapter has a strong focus on education. In partnership with Mountain BizWorks, the chapter is currently planning a workshop series for emerging designers. AIGA Asheville also recently hosted a community design workshop led by national speaker and designer advocate Hugh Weber. In 2020, AIGA Asheville has plans to host a student portfolio review, workshops, social events and Design Weekend, a collaboration with the local American Institute of Architects (AIA) chapter that will spotlight excellence in local graphic design and architecture with talks, workshops and showcases.
But perhaps one of the most important roles this AIGA chapter plays for our community is economic. “AIGA Asheville sets out to keep as much revenue in our economy as possible by bringing awareness of our amazingly talented professional community to local businesses,” says Tidwell. Phillips adds that providing this professional opportunity for designers means that Asheville businesses will receive more cutting-edge design services. “Design is a really powerful tool that allows business owners to communicate with their customers,” she says. “Having a strong design community in our town enables us to elevate and maintain an extremely high quality of service. AIGA helps designers stay updated and informed about what’s going on in their field.”
For more information, visit Asheville.AIGA.org.