On July 24, the El Paso chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) hosted their first forum. Between printing machines and with a small assortment of chairs, members and prospects got together to talk about the community of graphic designers in El Paso and how to improve it.
Although the AIGA of El Paso has been around for three years this was the first forum they hosted. The President of the chapter, Lisa Chavira, says that they previously had coffee socials where members could reconvene but she hoped that the forum would create better engagement. El Paso’s AIGA plans to host forums twice a year.
According to the Vice-President of the El Paso chapter, Veronna Corral, the purpose of the forum was to inform members of opportunities and upcoming events. But most importantly to create a space where a community can grow.
“The main goal is to improve transparency between members and allow members at all levels to get involved in the process of creating a stronger design community,” Corral said.
AIGA’s efforts are welcomed to the community of El Paso. Corral claims that the membership has grown since 2014 and that there is always plenty of enthusiasm. “Many designers are asking how they can help or get involved,” Corral said. “We’re working out ways now that can empower our community so they can take action themselves.”
Not only does AIGA seek to bring designers together but it also looks to meet the challenges that graphic designers face after finishing school. The challenges can range from the dreadful lack of employment to the constant changing of the design business that requires graphic designers to be updated for the new trends, techniques and tools.
AIGA deals with these problems through special programs and networking. “Through AIGA’s Professional Development Initiative, they provide members the opportunities to learn new skills, get advice on pressing career questions, hear insights from the profession’s leaders, and change the trajectory of their career,” Corral said, “Through AIGA, jobs all over the nation are posted daily. In addition to this, joining your local chapter is the best way to network and meet other designers.”
UTEP Professor of Graphic Design, Clive Cochran, emphasizes the importance of networking. He claims that it is important for students to meet other people from the same career to grow. He also believes that the career of Graphic Design is on the rise between art majors in UTEP.
Corral believes that a career in graphic design provides an assortment of different jobs and experiences. “There’s plenty of room to move laterally and there are many areas of expertise that you can explore within the industry. Having a design degree helps make those jobs, and movement upwards in your career, more accessible.”
Despite the enthusiasm and talent of graphic designers in the city of El Paso, there is still plenty of improvement that AIGA has set out to do. “El Paso is currently undergoing a lot of development, and many of those projects are looking to designers to help them market their new businesses or develop awareness for their project.,” Corral said.