Tag Archives: American Institute of Graphic Arts

Powered by Effective Design

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

The open office space of Oxide Design Co. has all the hallmarks of being inhabited by creative types: LEGO designs are the first thing you see when you peek inside the design and branding firm’s broad, south-facing windows. Then you notice the knick-knacks, like a curiously large amount of Aquaman memorabilia, a pinball machine, and a phone booth.

When Drew Davies started Oxide in 2001, he jokes that he got an office for his one-man business at the request of his wife to move his tchotchkes out of the house. But, Davies had a vision and, motivated by his passion for design, his business grew.

The four other creatives Davies employs are also passionate about creating successful design. Developer Wes Piper recently wrote on their blog site, “Successful design must answer this one question: Is it useful?”

The office embodies this theory. A couple of walls, the fabric on sofas in the lobby, and their logo include a bright red color; specifically, it’s true red, known as Pantone 032 in the graphic design world.

“Red is our corporate color, because it’s bold and passionate and a little bit dangerous,” Davies says. “I think it also speaks to our belief in consistency as much as anything.”

That red also appears in nontraditional ways around the office, such as in bathroom towels and planters.

Today, the firm consists of Davies, two more designers, a creative coordinator, and a web developer. Each adds to the collection of tchotchkes by personalizing their desks with their own.

“I love this office because it allows all five members of the team the space to build the kind of place where they want to come to work each day.” Davies says.

This also adds to the whimsical, team-oriented feeling in the office.

“From the top to bottom, it’s not a terribly hierarchical place to work,” says Mandy Mowers, creative coordinator. “We’re all one team.”

The small team is intentional. Its size allows Davies to remain involved in the design process.

“All five of us are working on the projects that come in the door,” he says.

The workweek at Oxide differs from the typical creative firm, Davies says. Everyone comes in around 8:30 a.m. and leaves around 5:30 p.m., allowing time to do their own thing in the evening. It’s an intentional schedule Davies says helps the creative process.

“It’s very important to me that everyone has a good work-life balance,” Davies says.

Oxide Design has worked with start-ups, Fortune 500 companies, and all sizes in between. Some of Oxide’s projects have included rebranding Metro Transit and Baxter Auto Group, and helping develop the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s national ballot design standards. Oxide has created unique designs for each client.

“We try to push all of our clients right up to the line of comfort, so that their design stands out from the fray while being perfectly appropriate for them.”

The graphic design community has noticed. The firm’s work has been recognized by major design competitions, including The One Show, the CLIO Awards, and Communication Arts Design Annual.

Davies stays involved with the design community. He has served as president of the local chapter of American Institute of Graphic Arts, and is currently national president emeritus. More than 50 percent of his firm’s annual work is pro bono, in part or in full. The charitable work is a key measure to Davies on how successful the business is.

“If I wasn’t able to do that, I wouldn’t feel like I’ve been successful,” he says.

Jill Wells has worked with Oxide on a number of projects for different nonprofits, most recently for Niobrara Valley Preserve. The writer hired Oxide to design a brochure that she says was invaluable for telling the story of the place.

“I have worked with Oxide for about 17 years, first at Nebraska AIDS Project and then The Nature Conservancy. Oxide is an ideal partner,” says Wells. “They listen to what you care about and then create something so beautiful and compelling—it still surprises me every time…Oxide designers care deeply about their community and it shows in their creativity, passion, and professionalism.

Visit oxidedesign.com for more information.

This article was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

AIGA

June 14, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

If you’re passionate about an activity, you want to seek out others who share your interest. The more niche an activity, the harder it may be for those with a common interest to come together.

Nebraska’s design community, though, has just the organization to meet that challenge.

The American Institute of Graphic Arts calls itself “the profession’s oldest and largest professional membership organization for design,” and it features an active chapter in Nebraska.

Amy Markham, 33, is a user-interface designer for Kiewit and the current president of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) Nebraska. She studied graphic design at the University of Nebraska-Kearney and became involved with the organization because her professors stressed
its importance.

Amy Markham

“They were the ones that really pushed the idea of being a member of AIGA because being a part of that community is essential to your career as a designer,” she says.

AIGA Nebraska, Markham says, is all about bringing people in Nebraska’s design community together, putting potential collaborators in touch with one another and providing each other with job opportunities. The organization caters to graphic designers, web designers, user-interface designers, and the like, but AIGA has started connecting with other design professionals such as coders, videographers, architects, and animators.

“It gives them a platform to come together so they can have a voice as a whole entity,” says Cathy Solarana, 51, AIGA Nebraska’s diversity and inclusion director.

Mary Allen, 34, AIGA Nebraska’s director of communications, discovered a passion for design when she made graphics for the Facebook account of the parent-teacher organization at her daughters’ elementary school. Now she’s a full-time graphic design student at Metropolitan
Community College.

“In addition to hosting valuable events and providing design resources, AIGA offers discounts on products, software, and event admission,” Allen says. “Really, though, it’s the intangible things—friendships forged, passions discovered, and changes made—which make AIGA membership so rewarding.”

This year, many of AIGA Nebraska’s events are focused on helping its community to become more diverse and inclusive. Holding events, Markham says, is one of the local chapter’s hallmarks.

“Since we are an organization that is mostly events-focused, the events that we put on kind of create that sense of community,” she says.

“We’re not communicating particularly well if we communicate to only one particular culture or community,” Solarana says.

Cathy Solarana

On May 17, AIGA Nebraska, the Omaha Public Library, and 1877 Society hosted the Human Library at the W. Dale Clark Library. Visitors had the opportunity to come to the library and “checkout” people by speaking with them for 20 minutes, people with whom the visitors may not typically have the chance to interact, including Muslims, sex-trafficking survivors, and transgender people.

“It’s really hard to dislike someone when you are standing in front of them,” Solarana says. She also says that AIGA Nebraska hopes to hold another one in November and to hold two every year
going forward.

Allen recognizes that committing to the organization can be demanding.

“I understand that our membership and potential members are busy people, because I’m a busy person myself,” Allen says. “But something else I have in common with our membership is that we’re passionate people—passionate about design and about serving this community.”

Visit nebraska.aiga.org for more information.

This article was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.