by Joey Marchy
As Northeast Florida’s local chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, AIGA Jacksonville hosts several educational initiatives throughout the year which focus on both educational and professional development.
Today’s education headlines are bleak as schools around the country face tough decisions. Tighter budgets and tuition hikes have greatly impacted students at all levels of learning. Jacksonville is no exception and is currently hosting town hall meetings to address a potential $125 million school budget shortfall. Art, music and physical education classes are all at risk of being eliminated to balance the budget.
AIGA Jacksonville serves a vital role in design education at many levels, including high school, college, and career training.
High School: Discover Design High School Mentoring Program
For the third school year, AIGA Jacksonville is reaching out to highschool students to teach real-world skills and practices. An extension of Design Ignites Change’s “Create! Don’t Hate.” campaign, AIGA Jacksonville’s six-week program introduces students to different principles of design by going through the steps and processes of a real design assignment which ends in juried selection of the best design. Highschool students benefit from the guidance and experience of design professionals currently employed in the industry.
Undergraduate and Beyond: Portfolio Review
Students at the university level benefit from AIGA Jacksonville’s annual Portfolio Review. With an emphasis on professional presentation, this event teaches students how to carefully prepare a portfolio and present themselves and their work to prospective employers. Students trade in “classroom casual” for their business best and forgo the comfort of their peer network for the pressure of one-on-one interviews.
“AIGA Jacksonville guides students from the classroom to the real world,” says Blake Coglianese, Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media at the University of North Florida and AIGA Jacksonville Education Co-Chair.
Jacksonville students and universities benefit tremendously from having Northeast Florida’s AIGA chapter operating right within the city. Gainesville, Tallahassee, Savannah have to work a little harder to take full advantage of the educational and networking opportunities offered by AIGA Jacksonville.”
Students make up more than half of AIGA Jacksonville’s membership, noted Patrick Carter, AIGA Membership Chair. Hovering around 150, the student population represents almost a dozen schools including Georgia Southern University, Flagler College, and The Art Institute of Jacksonville. AIGA Jacksonville provides a platform for learning, growing professionally, and making relevant contacts in the industry.
Caitlin Robinson, a recent Flagler College graduate, had this to say of the Portfolio Review, “It was amazing. Getting feedback from people who’ve been where I have [student], graduated and made careers was priceless.” She also added, “The input was a bit sobering.”
Dave Begley, Professor of Graphic Design and Digital Media at UNF and AIGA Jacksonville Education Co-Chair, says Portfolio Review provides a unique value for both new and graduating design students, “While being reviewed [students] get a sense of [the next steps after] completing their degree.”
Career Training: Hands-On Workshops, Conferences, and More
Professional designers also benefit from AIGA Jacksonville. With year-round programming and events geared towards continuing education and career advancement, professionals receive valuable training which might not otherwise be available to them. Jacksonville universities unfortunately do not offer post-graduate programs for the Creative Arts industries and many require full-time “degree-seeking” enrollment. AIGA Jacksonville allows professionals to update skills without the tuition expense and time investment required by full-time enrollment.
AIGA Jacksonville frequently brings renowned designers to speak, educate and inspire local professionals. “Design After Dark” gives designers a chance to learn best practices from professional peers, where topics range from self-promotion to the fundamentals of running a small business. Hands-on workshops provide instruction on skills ranging from screen printing to web design.
In the coming months we’ll look at the value design can bring to the boardroom and look at AIGA Jacksonville’s extensive involvement in the community. Be sure to read part one of this series: “How AIGA Is Strengthening the Jacksonville Community Through Design” on