It’s undeniable. Colorado has become a creative hub. But not until recently has our state been recognized for anything other than mining, mountains, and snow. Now, as more creative people are realizing that Colorado is the place to be, our city is evolving. In the past five years or so, Colorado’s creative community has grown strong with fresh designers, strategic developers, warm storytellers, photographers, project planners, and many more.
We’ve taken advantage of this influx and revamped our entire board. This is the biggest AIGA Colorado has ever been and we’re so grateful to have roped in all this great talent. As we continue to develop our chapter, we wanted to introduce our new board by asking them a few fun questions. Get to know everyone below.
Helen Young, President
Helen is the Creative Director and Owner at EnZed Design. She comes to us with 23 years of experience in the creative industry. Yea, she’s a pretty big deal.
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? Tennis and typefaces
- What’s your motto? Reward the reader.
- Define your style in five words: I live for small details.
Elysia Syriac, President Emeritus
Elysia is a designer at Relish creative. She is a driven and passionate young lady with nine years of experience.
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? Game of Thrones and Colorado Beer. Lettering. AIGA. Pushing the boundaries of creative communities.
- What’s your motto? Exceed Expectations and Take Vacations
- What does design mean to you? Finding the best solution to the problem at hand.
Connie Tran, Admin Chair
As an Art Director at Philosophy Communication, Connie comes to us with 4 years of solid experience.
- What’s your motto? My motto and approach to design has long been inspired by Saul Bass. “Design is thinking made visual.”
- Define your style in five words: Minimalist, Simple, Funky, Typographic, Contrast
- What do you like to do when you’re not being creative? Fidgeting with gadgets/gizmos, video games, tae kwon do, more video games
Kate Wright, VP of Chapter Development
She is the Career Services Alumni Advisor at the Art Institute of Colorado, and has 15 years of experience as a designer.
- What does design mean to you? Design is huge, it’s everywhere, even when you think it’s not. It’s wonderfully subtle, yet audacious at the same time.
- Who are you influenced by? Awesome designers, big names or unknowns. Everyone inspires me.
- Where is your happy place? At home on the patio with a glass of chilled wine, my husband and dogs.
Cat Fincun, VP of Programming
Contract Project Director at Battery 621
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? I was moving to Denver and wanted to get involved in the design community here. At an information interview I was told to check out AIGA’s ice cream social at little man and the rest is history!
- What’s your motto? Go BIG or go home
- What does design mean to you? Design is everything. We use it to build the environments we want to live and interact with every day. We use it to show who we are. It is our visual communication piece to the world.
Kat West, Co-Programming Director
Kat is an Art Director for Western Media and Kat West Ink. When you add it all up, Kat has ten years of experience.
- Where do you see yourself doing in five years? In five years I would love to be living in the mountains of Colorado, in my newly built container home! Working as a full time freelance designer, who is a rockstar mom and gardener. O’ the dream!
- Define your style in five words: Funky. Colorful. Innovative. Enthusiastic. Happy.
- What does design mean to you? Design is not a thing, or a place, its me. It means that I have been given a gift that must be shared with the world. I just finished designing graphics for the World Cup 2013 clothing sold at all the games. Design is only colors, fonts, and shapes until you add the spark of a good designer.
Amanda Lenz, New Programming Chair
Creative/Owner at Lenz Illustration & Design, Amanda has been in design/illustration for seven years.
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? I found AIGA while I was going to college at DU. The student programming was great. I got to participate in portfolio reviews, speaker series and the first edition of the AIGA Colorado Educational Journal. Being part of the initial team was exciting, and I learned more about building a brand, layout, and copywriting/editing. So it was a no-brainer to continue being a member throughout my professional career.
- Where is your happy place? Anywhere with a sketchbook.
- What do you like to do when you’re not being creative? Hiking, mountain biking, traveling and eating sweets.
Amy Malanga, Craftworks Chair
Amy is the Digital Media Coordinator at Furniture Row Companies
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? I wanted to be more involved in the design community
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? My photography. In addition to being a graphic designer, I have been a photographer since the tender age of 14. Its my hearts one true passion.
- Where is your happy place? Any place near water at sunset.
Mike Hornbeck, Drink & Draw chair
Owner Soapoint with just about six years of experience.
- Where do you see yourself doing in five years? SOAPOINT!
- What’s your motto? Measure twice, cut once.
- What does design mean to you? An opportunity to change the world and the way it thinks.
Justin Cline, VP of Communication
Art Director at Diablo Media and Partner at Proper Agency
- What’s your motto? Ichigoichie (Each Moment Only Once)
Rob Stefanski, Director of Communications
Self employed at the moment, Rob is always on the hunt for new work and or a permanent position. Hit him up!
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? As a recent college grad last year, I was looking for a way to get involved in the design community, get my foot in the door and meet other designers. I saw the position for Communication Director and threw my hat in the ring. I’m glad I did, because it’s been a great experience for me to be a part of this storied organization and help contribute to its success!
- What does design mean to you? Design means the opportunity to create something meaningful. It’s all about educating and informing people and opening their eyes, hoping that they will make positive changes in their lives. And when they do, that’s when the real magic and power of design happens.
- Who are you influenced by? Artistically, van Gogh is my idol; even though his story is kind of sad and tragic. His paintings are so visually striking, engaging and charming.
Brenda Geary, Branding Chair
Currently working as a graphic designer for Vail Resorts, Brenda has ten years of experience.
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? I set a goal to attend at least three AIGA events per year. The first two were so inspiring, I found myself poking around on the site and volunteering for the board.
- What’s your motto? What’s meant to be is meant to be
- What do you like to do when you’re not being creative? Anything outside. Biking, backpacking, yoga, snowboarding, and reading.
- Who are you influenced by? Pinterest in general.
Chris Arnold, Web Chair
As the owner of Limber Creative / Authentic Form & Function, Chris is a talented young man with seven years of design experience.
- Where is your happy place? Suffering on two wheels up a beautiful mountain climb.
- What does design mean to you? An opportunity to stake a claim, evoke meaningful emotion and spawn action.
- Who are you influenced by? Really enjoying work the last couple years by Draplin, Foundry Collective, and OMFGCO.
Miranda McCourt, Web Chair
Graphic Designer at Stortz Design
- What do you see yourself doing in five years? Something silly, like coding a graffiti app for the Google Glass or building replica cityscapes out of beer bottles.
- What does design mean to you? To me, design is the legend to help you navigate communication: it helps you navigate and tells you what symbols you should be looking for.
- Who are you influenced by? Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Vonnegut, Adrian Frutiger, Robert Crumb, Margaret Atwood, René Magritte, Jacques Derrida
Christy Wedge, Web Chair
Currently a Contractor UX Designer at Vail Resorts, Christy has been in the industry for nine years.
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? I like connecting with other creatives.
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? New technology
- What’s your motto? Balance.
Jane McGillem, PR and Social Media Chair
Jane is a PR Account Executive at Amélie Company
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? Finding/ creating balance. I don’t know if that’s necessarily something I’m always talking about, but definitely always thinking about it.
- What do you like to do when you’re not being creative? Everything we do is creative, right? At least I tend to believe so. I love to cook, I’m pretty into crossfit and just being active in general.
- Who are you influenced by? Personally, the words of my 102 year old great grandmother are always in the back of my mind, “You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be miserable. If you choose to be miserable, no one gives a damn.” This famous quote from her always reminds me that whatever I am doing, it needs to contribute to my happiness so I can be a better person to be around.
Peter Neils, Copywriter Chair
Copywriter at Diablo Media
- Where is your happy place? Whole Foods
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? Music. It’s arguably the most influential form of art and media we have. I’m really into new sounds, soul, and R&B. Basically anything that has a super thick bass line.
- What do you see yourself doing in five years? Continuing my quest to make the world a better place by bringing out the best in people.
Mentorship & Education
Edward Popovitz, VP of Mentorship and Education
Ed has been a part of The Art Institute of Colorado’s Faculty for 15 years and counting.
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? Justin’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
- What’s your motto? I can do it standing on my head.
- Define your style in five words: Flannel, cargo shorts, flip flops, dorky, overworked.
Mike Ruberto, Mentorship and Education Co-chair
Mike has been a Professor at Front Range Community College for five years.
- What does design mean to you? Design means critical thinking and problem solving. Design is meant to make living a little easier and more enjoyable.
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? I was first introduced to AIGA as an undergraduate student. My professors at SUNY Fredonia, Jan Conradi, and Paul Bowers, encouraged us to join and we had a pretty active student group that I eventually took over. We would hold critiques, share ideas, visit design studios, and have lots of fun. As president of our student group we visited firms in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Buffalo, and a portfolio review in Cleveland. I really enjoyed organizing these events and I’d like to do the same for students in Colorado!
- What’s your motto? “Be excellent to each other” –Bill S. Preston, Esquire (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure)
Amber Atkins, Co-Director of Education and Mentorship
Amber is the Director of Outreach Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and has been for six years.
- What path lead you to AIGA Colorado? Volunteering on Bordo Bello for RMCAD and getting Syriaced into Mentorship programming for AIGA. It has been an amazing opportunity and it’s honestly my favorite thing I do. I’m even trying to find a way to make it one of my top priorities because it brings more smiles to my face than anything I’ve ever put my energy into.
- Where do you see yourself doing in five years? Running a Non-Profit program centered around building resources for underserved movements, social change catalysts, and educational opportunities therein.
- What’s one thing you can’t stop talking about? Mermaids, unicorns, and magic.
Cindy Sewick, Awards Chair
Cindy is a Freelance Designer looking for a team she can change the world with. She comes to us with 25 years of experience, so get in touch with her if you need some work done.
- What’s your motto? To Thine own self be true.
- What does design mean to you? Determining the appropriate concepts, materials, tools, and skills to solve creative problems.
- What do you like to do when you’re not being creative? Wakeboarding, Snow skiing, Camping, Hiking, being outdoors away from the computer.
Michael J. Chavez, Higher Education Chair
Michael is on his sixth year as a Graphic Design Instructor for the Art Institute of Colorado.
- Where do you see yourself doing in five years? Being the most encouraging dad, aware husband, inspiring teacher, creative designer, active board member, kick ass bike rider, anti republican democratic and responsible human I can possibly be.
- What do you like to do when you’re not being creative? Ride bikes.
- Who are you influenced by?Designers and athletes breaking thresholds to discover new territories.
Gwen Penner, Awards Chair
She is the Assistant Program Director for the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Online Division. Gwen comes to AIGA with 15 years of teaching experience.
- Define your style in five words: I am a minimalist designer.
- Where is your happy place? By the ocean.
- Who are you influenced by? Mother Nature.