Summary by Leslie Olson, Design Camp® committee member

“My head has been spinning for a week since getting back from Design Camp®. I’ve declared myself a ‘camper’ for life, and am urging every student and graduate to get there as well. Thank you for your STRONG recommendation [to attend].”—Tom Herold, senior instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology

Tom’s sentiment was shared with hundreds of others at AIGA Minnesota’s 35th installment of Design Camp. Located at Madden’s on Gull Lake, this annual event is unique from the typical conference in its approachability and accessibility for those of all ages, levels of experience, and design-driven aspirations.

The white stuff

First, let’s talk about the weather, as all true Midwesterners do: It was 40-60 degrees and sunny for all 72 hours of the weekend. Tradition has it that snowfall must occur at Design Camp, but this year, no such luck. Given this situation, campers were impressively well behaved after-hours, and the s’more-making around the campfire was a smashing success.

The goods

The keynote presenters and workshop leaders were at times difficult to separate from the throngs of attendees — as mentioned, egos are seldom present at Design Camp, regardless of your “status.” Keynotes included Cast Iron Design duo Richard Roche and Jonathan Black (both former design students at Minnesota State University, Mankato); James Edmondson of OH No Type Co, who spoke of the wonders of the Hobo typeface; Kate Bingaman-Burt, an Oregon-based educator and freelance illustrator, and spearheader of the viral #100DaysofMaking campaign; Val Head, a UI designer and lover of all things animation; and Jacob Escobedo, Creative Director at Adult Swim. (You betcha, we all watched some Rick & Morty together.) Keynote highlights included poop jokes, bloody goat heads, substitute astronauts, and more Hobo. But seriously, we were fortunate to have these speakers grace us with their presence, in equal parts humorous and wildly inspiring.

Workshops were executed brilliantly on all fronts. Topics included pitching to clients and winning project bids; managing your rights, self promotion and legal responsibilities as a self-employed designer and/or owner of a small firm; working with your non-designer clients using an effective, collaborative design strategy model; learning about the power in using the AIGA Minnesota Design Camp® trademark; interactive design and strategy; designing sustainably for global impact; Neenah’s presentation about the tactile nature of fantastic paper (and why we should never settle when it comes to paper quality); Adobe’s stellar workshop, bursting to the seams with design workflow tips; and more.

The design

Little was responsible for creating our Design Camp theme this year, inviting attendees to “rediscover” their verve for design as students and professionals. The firm did a beautiful job in its execution of the many moving parts of design — from banners to presentation graphics to President’s Dinner invitations — which was integral to setting the mood for the weekend. When a design becomes an experience, you know it’s on point.

The plaid

Other memorable moments included our record-breaking show of plaid: We won a bet with Plaidurday founder Bugsy Sailor, who then drove all the way to Madden’s to party with us to tie up his end of the deal. Trivia this year brought down the house, focusing on a history of iconic bears, summer camp movies, bands of the ‘80s, and useful short key commands. (The lack of cheesy design trivia was perhaps the best part of the whole affair—as well as the massive amount of trivia prizes for all.)

This recap could become an epic novel at some point, so with an adieu, we profusely thank our sponsors, keynotes, workshop leaders, printers, creative team, our fabulous Design Camp committee members (who worked tirelessly before, during, and after the weekend), and our beloved attendees.

See more photos by Jay Larson from the Design Camp weekend here.

Design Camp 2015 Plaidurday

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Jhoselin Dominguez
Jhoselin Dominguez
Associate Director, Communications
I am a graphic designer from Kansas currently living in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I graduated May of 2019 from Fort Hays State University with a B.F.A in Graphic Design. My hobbies include writing short stories, riding my longboard, and playing the piano.