Designers: The Last Unicorns of the World

Written by
Amber Atkins
January 19, 2013

I’m not a designer, but I want to be a uni­corn too!

I am not a designer; I just work with them, sur­round myself with them, encour­age and envy them. Unicorns are famous for their courage, strength, and virtue; they sym­bol­ize purity, ele­gance and charm. Unicorns always come to mind when I try to under­stand my friends who are design­ers, col­leagues who lit­er­ally cre­ate the world around us and the stu­dents I work with that see the world in a more mag­i­cal way that I ever will. They give them­selves to the world in their cre­ative energy, tak­ing risks to make the world a bet­ter place, and I envy them because they have the courage and self­less­ness to do so. So if I’m not a cre­ative per­son, then how can I help so that I can be an hon­orary uni­corn too?

In case you are won­der­ing “why uni­corns?” it’s because of the movie The Last Unicorn, which made a huge impact on my life. It gave me hope, some­thing I carry around with me more than most of the other child­hood mem­o­ries I have. The world of design is my hope and is what helps me make sense of the world.


I’m nei­ther a designer nor a uni­corn, so why does this mat­ter to me?

I was asked in the past few months to wear what I hope will be one of the most impor­tant hats (or horns) of my cur­rent phase in life; Mentorship Director for AIGA Colorado. When I was asked to join the AIGA board I lit­er­ally thought to myself, “Maybe I can be a uni­corn too!” My job title will never include “design” on a laser cut busi­ness card or in a type­face cre­ated by yours truly, but I will get an oppor­tu­nity to soak up some cre­ative magic from our uni­corns in the AIGA community.

When I joined AIGA I had to ask myself, “What does a Mentorship Director Do?” Thus far, it has meant that I work dili­gently to con­nect the cre­ative indus­try and econ­omy with the youth and young adults who might one day become uni­corns them­selves, or who already are and just need some­one to show them their magic! Mentor pro­grams are an ideal way to sup­port this effort and AIGA Colorado already does so much in the state to sup­port this.


What are some of the AIGA Colorado men­tor­ship efforts?

AIGA Colorado has a com­mit­ment to men­tor­ship through cre­ative prob­lem solv­ing. One of their efforts is through the VSA Colorado and Access Gallery sum­mer pro­gram, in which local design­ers and dis­abled youth work together to visu­ally solve social con­cerns. Not only does AIGA help fund this through their annual Bordo Bello event, but they also help iden­tify design­ers who par­tic­i­pate in this pro­gram via the AIGA Colorado net­work. I’m excited that this will be my first year in sup­port of this pro­gram and if you would like to par­tic­i­pate feel free to visit: access​gallery​.org to find out more!


Teen Mentorship Program, Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy

Kunsmiller Creative Arts Academy is in the south­west cor­ner of Denver and is lov­ingly known as KCAA by the com­mu­nity it exists in. With a diverse stu­dent pop­u­la­tion, this school was pre­vi­ously a mid­dle school that had its nor­mal prob­lems as most of the pub­lic schools around the nation do. Recently, the school has assumed new lead­er­ship and a new for­mat where cre­ativ­ity is a part of every prob­lem that needs to be solved. Creativity is incor­po­rated across the cur­ricu­lum and KCAA’s ulti­mate goal is to be the first pub­lic K-12 Arts and Creative Academy in the nation! With a lofty, attain­able and com­mend­able goal in their scope, AIGA is excited to sup­port these efforts by work­ing with the Career and Technical Education Department to expose their high school com­mu­nity to cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als and design stu­dios in the Denver area. Thus far, the group has got­ten a chance to see how cura­tors at the Denver Art Museum choose the exhibits and how they design that expe­ri­ence. The stu­dents at KCAA had a stu­dio visit at Matter, founded by Rick Griffith who I con­sider a local uni­corn of let­ter­press, typog­ra­phy and graphic design. His advice that day was to pur­sue what they love and “get weird” with it. Thus far, my favorite part of get­ting to know the “Kunsmiller Crew” (what I call the stu­dent group) is learn­ing about what they want to be when they “grow up.” I was stoked to find out that the major­ity want to be uni­corns so that they can impact the way peo­ple expe­ri­ence the world around them.


Unicorn-bound through men­tor success!

The ulti­mate goal of men­tor­ship by def­i­n­i­tion is to teach, instruct and learn. AIGA Colorado’s pro­grams and com­mit­ment to this is why I was will­ing to take on the role of Mentorship Director. The next step is to impact the col­le­giate youth of Colorado with a pro­gram ded­i­cated to defin­ing them­selves as design­ers early, then plan for their future cre­ative pro­fes­sion­als while con­nect­ing with the indus­try pro­fes­sion­als they will cre­ate the world with!

I might not be a designer or a uni­corn, but I’m the next best thing — a Mentorship Director. In this role, I have the most amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties to teach, learn and grow as an indi­vid­ual by watch­ing oth­ers actively do the same through the pro­grams I get to sup­port.  Design impacts human exis­tence daily through the expo­sure we have to the world around us through con­tent, tech­nol­ogy, prod­ucts, ser­vices and attire. Design is the magic behind exis­tence and design­ers are the world’s last unicorns.

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  • Batman9436

    Nice, Amber.

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