MINNEAPOLIS — March 30, 2012

The Minnesota chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, is pleased to announce the selection of John DuFresne, Monica Little, and Heather Olson as recipients of the distinguished AIGA Fellow Award.

The AIGA Fellow award program recognizes designers who have made a significant contribution to raising the standard of excellence in practice and conduct within their local or regional design community as well as their local AIGA chapter. Contributions in education, writing, and leadership, as well as reputation and the practice of design, are given equal consideration. The Fellow Award is the highest honor an AIGA chapter may bestow upon one of its members.

Minnesota’s 2012 Fellows were chosen from member nominations by a subcommittee of the AIGA Minnesota chapter board, and approved by the board. They will be publicly honored at a special event in June and their names will be added to the national list of AIGA Fellows. Details regarding the event will be announced on the AIGA Minnesota website later this spring.

Previous AIGA Minnesota Fellows are Peter Seitz (2000), Tim Larsen (2007), Sue Crolick, Joe Duffy, and Eric Madsen (2010). Fellows are now honored by AIGA Minnesota every two years.

John DuFresne has championed quality graphic design education through his teaching and leadership for more than 25 years. As Professor and Chair of the Graphic Design Department for the College of Visual Arts (CVA), DuFresne has been responsible for developing CVA’s strong design curriculum and reputation. He has also taught at the University of Wisconsin–Stout. Over the years, hundreds of his students have become influential designers and AIGA members making significant contributions to the regional and national graphic design communities. In addition, DuFresne has served as AIGA Minnesota Education Director (1990–1992), AIGA Minnesota President (1992–1994), and AIGA National Board Member and Treasurer (1995–1998). He was instrumental in hiring Ric Grefé as AIGA’s executive director and helped to shape the organization’s future both organizationally and financially. DuFresne has been directly involved with the CVA Leaders of Design Series and many other AIGA Minnesota special events that have brought design legends such as Paul Rand and Steven Heller to Minnesota. John has a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from the University of Wisconsin–Superior and a master’s in advertising design from Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Monica Little established Little & Company in 1979, encouraging and paving the way for women and new college graduates to become design entrepreneurs. For more than 30 years, Monica’s visionary leadership has inspired creative and powerful design solutions for clients such as Target, Microsoft, American Craft Council, Wells Fargo and Way to Grow. Little & Company’s creative work has been recognized by the New York Art Directors Club, AIGA, American Advertising Federation, Communication Arts, Print, Graphis, HOW, Step Inside Design, and I.D., among others. In 2011, Little was chosen to be one of 23 women to be honored in CVA’s Women in Minnesota design exhibit. Little also shares her business acumen and philanthropic ideals by serving on a variety of nonprofit boards including: AIGA Minnesota, Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and the Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis. As a tribute to her 30th year in business, Little endowed an annual design scholarship at MCAD. She holds a B.F.A. degree in visual communications from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Heather Olson has been integral to shaping and growing AIGA Minnesota off and on for 30 years. Through her extraordinary leadership, volunteerism, mentorship, facilitation, and advocacy, Olson has helped to build and strengthen the Minnesota chapter’s design community to its Top 5 status in the nation today.  After editing the chapter newsletter, leading the Luncheons Committee, and co-chairing the Minnesota Design Conference at Lutsen, Olson was elected the first female president of the Minnesota Graphic Designers Association (1983), the predecessor to AIGA Minnesota. She later served as AIGA Minnesota’s Director of Education and Associate Director of In-House Designers, and is Co-Chair of the Veteran Designers Committee and a MNtor Program Mentor. Olson has coordinated other events such as the CVA Leaders of Design Series and sits on the advisory board of Art Buddies. In addition to volunteering, Olson spent the first half of her career as a practicing graphic designer, then shifted into marketing and recruitment for The Office of Eric Madsen, Larsen Design, and now Franke+Fiorella, where she is Marketing Director. Olson received a B.A. with Honors from Iowa State University in Advertising Design and Journalism.

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Brent Larson
Brent Larson
Brent is an award winning Motion, 3D, and Graphic designer with 20 years of experience working in the architectural, manufacturing, legal, corporate, and film industries as a solopreneur, agency, and in-house designer. He has experience in illustration, graphic design, product design, 3D modeling & animation, motion graphics, video production, live & virtual event production, presentation design, art direction, and project management. He currently works as a corporate in-house Principal Motion and Graphic Designer in the MedTech industry.

Before becoming AIGA Minnesota President, Brent served as Vice President from 2022-2023 and Chair of the In-House Designers Committee from 2019 - 2023.

Brent volunteers as a mentor for emerging designers and is a member of the AIGA Minnesota Mind to Mind Mentorship Program Committee.

His interests include history, film, design, animation, illustration, 3D printing, model making, woodworking, golf, bowling, fishing, and restoring things.