Discovering AIGA Central Coast

Big changes are in store for AIGA Santa Barbara! We’ve been saying this a lot in the past year, but this time those changes will be literally transformative: in 2019, AIGA Santa Barbara will become AIGA Central Coast. This decision was made by the current Board of Directors, and it was not made lightly. It reflects in name what our chapter has always been: a community of creative professionals across Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties.

We’re notifying our members and friends to let everyone know what the Board has been up to in 2018 and where we’re taking the chapter in the immediate future. Our ambitious five-year strategic plan, developed in August 2017, was a first for this chapter and  solidified our vision and goals after 10 years of operation. However, we soon realized it needed some adjustments.

The Challenge: Emerging From a Wild Year

Our regionally-equal, all-volunteer board could realistically do only so much while balancing careers and personal lives. Like the rest of the local community, our board and membership were hit hard by the recent fires and mudslides. Our plans for Santa Barbara and Ventura had to be tabled, and with less activity came lower membership and a diminished community profile. Despite that, we’ve recruited new board members with ambitious goals and the means to accomplish them. Our chapter has always relied on volunteers who are dedicated above and beyond, and we’re happy to report that commitment will continue in 2019.

Illustrator and type designer Jessica Hische speaks to design students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, April 2018.

Meanwhile, the membership in San Luis Obispo that we’ve been growing since 2015 showed energetic enthusiasm in 2017-18, and many of those creatives will be stepping up to leadership roles on our Board in 2019. Leading a creative organization in the face of approaching industry changes (let alone natural disasters) can be challenging for volunteers. We believe this fresh approach will help sustain our creative community through a potentially disruptive yet ultimately invigorating future.

The Big Picture: Inclusion and Connection

AIGA Central Coast will continue advocating for design’s value to business, government, and the general public—but we will move forward doing so regionally, not just locally. We will go beyond traditional graphic design to represent all creative professionals (in-house, freelance, and agency-based) and keep pace with design industry changes as outlined by AIGA National’s Designer 2025 initiative. We believe an inclusive, regional emphasis will better help our chapter connect design leaders, link design and entrepreneurship, and further human-centered design practice.

AIGA SB President Keir DuBois speaks at the Ventura County Creative Mix in Ventura, April 2018.

Some of these changes will be public, and some behind the scenes. To operate across a wider area of three co-equal regions, our Board of Directors has gone mostly virtual for regular monthly meetings. At least three of those will be face-to-face: a Kickoff Meeting (usually in January), a Board Retreat (usually in late Summer) and an Open Board Meeting (usually in mid-Fall). We may have occasional larger Membership meetings, but our intention is for community networking mixers (which will be more frequent) to fill that role.

What You’ll See: Events, Programs, and Partnerships

For events and programs, our current plan is to be more localized, accessible, supportive and informative. We will produce approximately three events per quarter (one in each region: SB, SLO, and Ventura counties). One of those events may be a larger discussion panel, guest speaker, film, or other educational topic relevant to creative professionals. The remainder will be smaller community mixers or networking opportunities. To make attendance easier, we’ll be asking you what your preferred days and times are, and keeping admission fees low-to-nonexistent.

Kyle Ashby of The SANDBOX SB introduces “The Business of Illustration” discussion panel in Santa Barbara, November 2017.

For sponsorships and partnerships, our goal is to use this more agile event plan to maintain our standing as the primary network for professional creativity on the Central Coast. This means we will still cultivate mutually beneficial, reciprocal relationships with companies and organizations whose support keeps us financially healthy, active, prepared, and flexible enough to serve our membership’s needs.

What’s Next: Discovering AIGA Central Coast

Notice that we said the “current” plan. Our strategy is outlined but it’s critical to hear from you! The transition process is already beginning, but we will open it up on November 15 (save that date!) with a simultaneous, multi-location “discovery” event for community input and awareness. This will be our introduction to a more inclusive chapter, from Thousand Oaks to Paso Robles, from Ojai to Oxnard, from Santa Maria to Carpinteria.

More information about this event will come via our email list and social media when we can share it, but you’re welcome to contact us too. Thank you for your continued support!


All photos by AIGA SB except Gaviota coast photo by Doc Searls. Edited by AIGA SB under Creative Commons.

By aigasantabarbara
Published September 24, 2018
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