Jennifer Yamnitz, Tucson chairwoman of the Arizona board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts, worked for the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau before leaving last fall to work as a freelance designer and copywriter. In that capacity, Yamnitz has learned the value of networking and of singing the praises of Tucson's "creative community." That's why she is involved in AIGA and helped plan Tucson 20x20, an evening of presentations from local artists and designers that coincides with Phoenix Design Week. Tickets to the event at 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 27, at Barrio Brewing Co., 800 E. 16th St., are $7 for members, and $10 for nonmembers. To register, go to tucson20x20.eventbrite.com. For more information, visit Arizona arizona.aiga.org/events/tucson-20x20.
Are you from Tucson?
No, I'm from Colorado, but I've been here nine years. Right now, I'm freelancing, and I have a wide variety of clients. Before going out on my own, I was with the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau, so I have a tourism background and enjoy those types of clients. But currently, I take what comes my way.
Tell me about AIGA.
Well, in Tucson, we are part of the Arizona chapter currently. Right now, we're focusing on getting more active in Tucson and getting more events going here. It's an organization that offers great resources, and we need a place for our creatives to come out and network.
What is Tucson 20x20?
We had an opportunity to do this in conjunction with Phoenix Design Week. For those who are in Phoenix, we provide a free ride down. ... It's a chance to highlight the different types of creatives who are out there and what they are doing. It's a chance for the public, who doesn't get to see who is really behind a lot of what we see every day—architecture, murals or ads that you see in your daily life—to hear from those people.
How is the event organized?
It's a series of mini-presentations. We gave the presenters an opportunity to talk about what they care about most in life and gave them creative license in how they want to do that. It's in a pecha kucha Japanese form that is kind of a free-for-all. For example, Aaron Reyes is going to talk about getting inspiration from summer vacation, and the creative thoughts that come to you from taking a break. So the presentations aren't, "This is what I did for this client, and this is what I did for that client."
Is this a good opportunity to share Tucson with folks from Phoenix?
I think we have a lot of talent, and there are lot of people here who do work on a national scale, and so often, I don't think we are recognized. It's almost a little secret and not well-known in our own community. There is a lot of creativity here. We see that in a lot of arts organizations. As a community, we are well aware of local artists, but not when it comes to the local design community, even though there is a lot of talent.
This is a great idea for networking. Why hasn't it been done in the past?
I'm not sure. I think it is unfortunate, because there is a huge value in people coming together to talk about their work, and share tips and challenges. ... There wasn't a group to make it happen before. But we have to make it happen. We have to take the responsibility ourselves.
Has it been difficult to freelance?
I've been very fortunate that I had a good network of people already. I had it maybe a little easier than someone just starting out, but I do have to get out there and market myself.
What does the Tucson AIGA typically do?
Tucson 20x20 is our first big event and certainly the one that will introduce AIGA to a wider audience. We started getting active at the beginning of the year with Say Something, a small roundtable gathering. We pick a topic and keep it to less than 10 people. Next month, we are going to a get-together for cocktails and networking.
What excites you most about Tucson 20x20?
I'm glad we've managed to pull this together and (bring in) the variety of people who are presenting. There will be historical and art presentations, but I'm particularly excited about Jamie Williams' presentation on her documentary American Cowgirl.