September 24, 2018
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Collaborative Creativity

Evansville Design Group makes an impact
EDG sells custom-made commemorative posters at the Fall Festival to raise money for their sponsored nonprofit.

Evansville Design Group is all about creativity. The goal of this group, formed in 2011, is to unite creative professionals from every corner of the design world — graphic, industrial, interior, and anything in between. EDG wants those creative minds to join in their efforts to educate and enhance the community.

“It’s not only a group of designers, but it’s design based,” says Vice President of EDG Rachel Wambach. “That’s what it’s all about. We include different disciplines like graphic designers, industrial designers, interior designers, motion designers, photographers, illustrators, and web developers. We even have writers, too.”

The not-for-profit organization now has more than 100 members with varying skill sets. Working together, the talented group of designers emphasizes education, networking, and enrichment for those within the group and for the community as a whole.

“We feel like a community that values design is also a community that has a richer business environment,” says Matt Wagner, president of Evansville Design Group, “because all of the big companies around here would more easily attract and retain young talent if they had a community that appreciates good design.”

Among the group’s many programs, education carries a strong importance with young and aspiring designers, EDG’s creative affiliates, and members of the community. For one educational program, young people are encouraged to come to the Koch Family Children’s Museum of Evansville where they will learn important elements of design through a logo scavenger hunt and workshops.

“When you educate a community on why design matters, a community becomes more engaged with design, they understand design, they become more design literate,” says Wagner. “And we feel like the community that understands design, believes in design, supports design is a community where other people want to live, and stay, and work.”

EDG also presents various speakers, so designers can learn more about their field from other professionals. Along with sponsoring speakers from the local area, EDG brings in speakers from cities like Louisville and Indianapolis like Matt Dobson from Power Creative in Louisville and Jim Huff, the creative director at Fire & Rain. Wagner is excited about planning a symposium in the future. A multiple-day event, local creative professionals and others from out of town will come together to listen and discuss new ideas in the creative world.

“We want a good mix of bringing in out of town people and then also having our own local programming,” says Wagner. “We want to learn from people outside, but also we’re promoting Evansville at the same time as we’re promoting our group. It spreads the word that there are good things going on in Evansville.”

A more casual program is the morning brew/evening brew meeting. In the morning, the group will meet at a local coffee house to enjoy some coffee or tea and discuss design. Then in the evening they meet at a local microbrewery to drink a beer or two.

EDG organizes fundraisers not only to cover some of their own expenses but also to support other not-for-profit organizations.

Design for Good is a local initiative to assist a local nonprofit of EDG’s choosing. Throughout the year, the group works with the nonprofit to create design elements such as branding and logos.

Also to help raise money for the nonprofit organization, the group creates a poster for and inspired by the Fall Festival. They sell these original, commemorative posters throughout the year, and they are limited edition. Some of the proceeds benefit the group’s sponsored organization and the West Side Nut Club scholarship fund.

“It’s using design to fundraise, and we’re a nonprofit helping a nonprofit,” says Wambach. “We’re intermixing with a lot of other nonprofits. We don’t really need a lot of money to operate. We use the money to enhance our programs and to bring in speakers, but it’s also very community oriented. We want to give back to other nonprofits that we work with.”

At the end of the year, members submit their best work online to be assessed by a panel of judges from all over the country for their annual contest. In the past, they have had judges from California, Oregon, and Massachusetts. Then they all gather for a night to view each other’s work and announce the winners of the different categories.

“Design isn’t necessarily visual; it’s problem solving,” says Wagner. “That’s the thing people need to understand. A lot of people lump the design community and the art community together, and they’re very different. Both serve a very important purpose and some live in both worlds, but designers are problem solvers. We’re making things look better and function better.”

For more information about Evansville Design Group, visit evansvilledesign.org.

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