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: accessgallery.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.