Tag Archives: graphic design

Design is a Team Effort

May 16, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

How many magazines (outside of this one) do you read? I walk into the bookstore about once a month and look at the magazine racks. I’ve always enjoyed looking at the magazine section, and while certain magazines routinely grab my attention, new ones catch me each month by their
cover designs. 

It is thanks to graphic artists that readers stop in their tracks and pick up a magazine, but even a simplistic-looking cover is far from that—in some cases, the simpler the cover, the harder to design.

The cover you are viewing was created by senior graphic designer Derek Joy. He and I work closely on B2B—and I enjoy looking at how he inserts his colorful personality into the magazine.

His work is often subtle. He came up with a great design element a couple of months ago—a diamond-shaped graphic that is placed near the page numbers and explains the department in a creative way, such as the crescent moon in the diamond on “After Hours.” And take another look at last year’s Best of B2B results in the March/April/May 2017 edition (visit readonlinenow.com to see the issue). That launching rocket ship you find throughout the list was due to Derek’s creativity.

I also work with several other incredible artists. Creative director Matt Wieczorek’s appreciation of clean styles inspired the geometric, art-deco look for the annual Faces of Omaha, and graphic designer Mady Besch brought an element of surprise to the latest Family Guide with a cover made from felt, photographed by Bill Sitzmann. And Katiuska Nuñez produces stunning custom ads for
our advertisers.

I hope you enjoy reading about the design-inspired articles in this issue. 


This letter was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B.

Daisy Hutzell-Rodman is the managing editor of B2B, a publication of Omaha Magazine LTD. She can be reached at daisy@omahamagazine.com.

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.

Big Omaha

May 24, 2017 by
Photography by Big Omaha

Rewind to May 8, 2009, and you will find a community of 400-plus graphic designers, entrepreneurs, creatives, developers, small business owners, and even a handful of investors seated in tidy rows at KANEKO in the Old Market. It was a first-of-its-kind conference for Omaha.

Many of these people knew of this event through casual conversations—mostly on Twitter—about a little-known conference coming to town called “Big Omaha.” It was the brainchild and second-born of friends Jeff Slobotski and Dusty Davidson (the previous year’s Silicon Prairie News being their firstborn). The two recognized a movement and a simmering energy surrounding the local tech community. It was a cadre of women and men who decided start-up and tech success could happen not on the West Coast but in their own backyards.

The inaugural Big Omaha sold out 10 days prior to the conference. The energy it created has sustained these past eight years. The result? Omaha is now a destination for start-ups seeking new ideas, new energy, and even new money in the form of investors.

“Big Omaha provides inspiration for people to start something,” explains Brian Lee of AIM, a not-for-profit organization that promotes technology to empower people, enhance organizations, and create brilliant communities. Lee serves as managing director of Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News.

Two years ago, Big Omaha and Silicon Prairie News were acquired by AIM. Although the ownership structure has changed, the Big Omaha experience remains true to what Slobotski and Davidson created with the first conference in 2009.

“Big Omaha has had a huge impact on our community,” Lee says. “It is part of a larger movement in the past eight years that started with Big Omaha.”

Now the conference welcomes a sold-out audience of 700 attendees with guest speakers in a range of tech- and entrepreneurial-based industries who have crisscrossed the globe. When the speakers take the stage, the majority are candid about their successes and their failures, which they are encouraged to share in engaging, meaningful, transparent, and memorable ways.

“We ask our speakers to address overcoming challenges, which helps our audience find inspiration,” Lee says. “In the Midwest, we appreciate authenticity. Hearing those struggles helps a lot.”

Part of the splash of Big Omaha’s first conference in 2009 was its clever cow branding, developed by Omaha-based Oxide Design Co. The cow visuals have remained, although design duties changed hands in 2015 from Oxide to Grain & Mortar.

Now that Big Omaha is owned and operated by AIM, its goal is to cover costs through sponsorships and ticket sales, Lee says.

The conference continues to be a hot event. Tickets that cost as much as $599 are scooped up annually by local, national, and even international attendees.

Big Omaha could move to a larger venue, selling more tickets and earning more revenue. But Lee says from his vantage point, the Big Omaha culture isn’t about a bottom line.

“Our goal is not to outgrow KANEKO. We want to preserve the charm and the experience (of Big Omaha) for as long as we can.”

Part of this charm is the togetherness. Everyone who attends Big Omaha hears the same speakers in the same order. Speakers are encouraged to remain the entire two days of the conference, immersing themselves in the experience and networking with Big Omaha ticket-holders. (The pre-party and post-party have become a popular part of the two-day conference.)

Graphic design, architecture, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship ideas abound here. UNL architecture students provided an art installation in 2016, and a guest speaker in 2015 and 2017 was fashion entrepreneur Mona Bijoor, a favorite among the fashion designers and fashionistas
in attendance.

The conference’s first row is filled with familiar faces each year. One of them is Megan Hunt of Omaha, who has attended every single Big Omaha since 2009.

“I remember the incredible momentum that had built up in the Midwest startup community for this event,” Hunt recalls. “The desire we all had for a space to come together, share the work we were doing, and learn from the superstars in our field was palpable. The way that Dusty and Jeff harnessed that energy and built Omaha’s reputation as a hub of entrepreneurship is nothing short of legendary.”

Hunt has owned a web-based bridal design company, a co-working space, and, most recently, a web-based clothing retailer known as Hello Holiday that also boasts a very visual storefront in the heart of Dundee.

“I love going to Big Omaha because, for me, running a business is not just dollars and cents and strategy around growth,” Hunt adds. “It takes a lot of creativity and ingenuity. Big Omaha is my favorite conference because they do understand this so well, emphasizing how interdisciplinary business and technology can be, and welcoming artists, musicians, designers, and writers—people who may normally be in the minority at
other conferences.”

Big Omaha 2017

Big Omaha returned to KANEKO for the ninth consecutive year May 18 and 19. Below is the lineup of speakers.

Joe Ariel, co-founder and CEO of Goldbely

Mona Bijoor, managing partner at King Circle Capital and founder of JOOR

Christina Brodbeck, founding partner at Rivet Ventures

Daniel Burka, design partner at GV, formerly Google Ventures

Shirley Chung, chef and owner at Steamers Co.

Baldwin Cunningham, vice president of strategy at Brit + Co., co-founder of Partnered

Diana Goodwin, founder and CEO of AquaMobile

Alex Klein, co-founder and CEO of Kano Computing

Brandon Levy, co-founder and CEO of Stitch Labs

Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix, CEO of MoviePass

Margenette Moore-Roberts, global head of inclusive diversity at Yahoo

Nish Nadaraja, former Yelp brand director, partner at Rich Kid Cool

Brian Neider, a partner at Lead Edge Capital

Vanessa Torrivilla, co-founder and creative director of Goldbely

Shandra Woworuntu, founder of Mentari

Matt Zeiler, founder and CEO of Clarifai

Visit bigomaha.co for more information.

Big Omaha participants try virtual reality goggles at a previous year’s event.

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

Drew Davies

March 30, 2015 by
Photography by Scott Drickey

Originally published in March/April 2015 Omaha Magazine

Sometimes a business’s most successful seeds are sewn in grassroots.

At least, this is the approach that seems to have worked quite well for entrepreneur Drew Davies, who created the graphic design company Oxide Design Co. in 2001.

“Fair to say I have entrepreneurial blood in my veins,” Davies says with a laugh, referencing the legacy of business-owning passed down to him by his parents, who own Soul Desires Bookstore and Coffeeshop in the Old Market.

Davies says the “leap of faith” for starting a business on his own was maybe a bit easier for this reason. Although he worked for other smaller graphic design firms out of college, Davies’ passion for the field pushed him to explore other ways to forge a unique identity, this one uniquely his own.

“Graphic design is an interesting business,” he says. “It’s a lot about running a successful business, but also a lot about putting your heart and soul into a more creative endeavor. So there’s a certain drive to be in an environment where that’s fostered.”

And that drive extends far beyond his own business.

Dubbed by Davies as his “half and half approach,” over 50 percent of Oxide Design’s often award-winning projects are with nonprofit organizations like the Nebraska AIDS Project, the Federal Voter Assistance Program, and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, where all work is donated or discounted. The projects (“picking a favorite is like picking a favorite child,” Davies adds) range anywhere from customizing voting ballots to designing custom condom wrappers to raise AIDS awareness.

“Nonprofit is something I feel pretty strongly about,” Davies says. “I never started this business to get rich and famous. I wanted to be in charge of what I love doing, so it’s nice to have the ability to give back.”

We don’t know about his bank balance—and “famous” may be too strong a word—but Davies has garnered his share of prominence in the industry.

Davies was awarded the AIGA Fellow Award last November, an honor given to recognize designers who have made a significant impact for a cause or community. He’s also the only Nebraskan to have judged the Communication Arts (CA) Design Annual, a design competition dedicated to showcasing the world’s elite talents in the field. He has also served as national co-president of AIGA, the professional association for design, and was pegged as one of Graphic Design: USA magazine’s list of People to Watch in 2012.

And at the foundation of Davies’ passions? Omaha.

“I’m amazed almost every day at how creative the work is that comes out of this city,” he says, adding that Omaha’s reputation in design, as it is in so many endeavors, is perhaps a bit under the radar when viewed through the prism of a national perspective.

That’s quickly changing, though.

“It’s always been a pleasure being from a place that collectively produces such good work that it shatters people’s preconceived notions about what it means to produce from Omaha,” Davies says. “It makes me proud to be at the heart of this community and to show off this work and have people realize, ‘Wow, there’s something fabulous going on in that town.’”

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