AIGA Creates a Place Where Design Thrives for Everyone

March 3, 2020

Making the most of an entire extra day (hello leap year!), AIGA put on the third annual THRIVE design conference this past weekend. This was my third year attending the event, so I knew that it was going to be a great day full of inspiration.

The conference brought together speakers from around the world whose specialties included a range of topics like creating your own brand, concept creation applied to Netflix shows, and intricate hand lettering. The Fruit, a unique art space and creative playground in downtown Durham, was once again the perfect setting for this creative event. 

Here are my takeaways from the day: 

Community is a Potluck

Even though every person at THRIVE didn't know each other, we are all a part of the design community. Hugh Weber emphasized the importance of the relationships that make up this community and compared the diverse mix to that of a potluck. A potluck meal ensures that everyone will be happy with at least one dish. Just like a potluck, a community needs each member to bring their unique skills to the table in order to be successful. Although I went to this conference alone, I quickly connected with fellow designers and felt like I was a part of the potluck that THRIVE conference sought to create.


Bad Ideas Still Count As Ideas

Nearly every speaker touched briefly on falling into creative ruts, which is something that affects most creative people every now and then. One way to break out of a rut is not what you’d expect – it’s to continue creating no matter how bad you feel about the work that you're producing. The only way to get the bad ideas out of your head is to literally get them onto paper (or artboard) and move on! From the mind of Mary Kate McDevitt, “Roll with it, gain momentum, slow down, come to a complete stop, look both ways, & proceed with caution.”


Be Extra

Hellcats Fortune Telling Candles are one example of how being "extra" can lead to success. By taking a basic idea, a candle, and adding something extra, a scratch off fortune, Hellcats created a more interactive product that people can't get enough of. "Extra" can also mean something as simple as adding more unique touches to your work. Maybe that means incorporating more shapes, more colors, or more ideas overall by combining two ideas into one even better idea. Illustrator Rob Zilla spoke about how design is a game that requires the player to give the maximum effort in order to win.


Aside from the talks, the vendor hall was packed with posters, prints, t-shirts, stickers, and merchandise from the speakers, local artists, and other associations. I personally loved the Hellcats and Mary Kate McDevitt booths. There was even freshly spun cotton candy, what a treat!

THRIVE is always a great way to recharge and I’m looking forward to putting the lessons to use in the coming months.

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