About a month ago (on April 9th) my fellow designer / friend, Mike Strizak, and I ventured north to downtown Cleveland for some constructive criticism and comradery via AIGA. It was relatively nice out, just a little cold though. We ended up parking 5 minutes down the street before realizing the event provided free parking...whoops.
Upon entry, we were greeted by a couple of AIGA-ers and filled out a name tag. We were further directed down the hall of Trinity Commons and into the cathedral area where the event took place. Surrounding the the perimeter of the cathedral were white covered tables, students, portfolios, and professionals. A fair amount of the students seemed to be from the University of Akron. Nonetheless, I was greeted by Amy Hawk and Dawn Zidonis while awaiting a table spot.
After a few minutes, a chair was open and I headed over to greet the professional. His name was Richard and he worked for _. While he admittedly enjoyed my work, he suggested I consider bringing working models along with my portfolio to any interviews in the future. Richard stressed the importance of continuing to promote yourself, as he received one of his first design jobs roughly one year after self-promoting.
Shortly after that, I met another professional Richard. Though he prefers to go by Ricky, I felt the irony from the start. He was referred to me by Janelle Slivka (friend / designer). And rightfully so, I enjoyed Ricky's approach. He had me speak about my work as opposed to just listening to what he had to say first off. This encouraged self awareness on the 'sales pitch' of my design. Furthermore, he gave me some minor tips to touch up my work. Check out his design blog by the way.
All in all, the review as was fairly constructive for me. Only regrets I had were not meeting with enough professionals after handing over 25 dollars. I don't get to visit Cleveland (or go anywhere for that matter) too often; so whenever I can visit, the experience is positive.
After the portfolio review, a group of us from Myers School of Art headed out to the Cocktails for Creatives after party. Mike and I drove around the flats a bit, passing Larry Flynt's Hustler Club one too many times trying to find Rock Bottom Brewery. We parked nearby and walked over to realize the Scene Pavilion is right next door. This part of Cleveland seemed a little detached from the city, in a good way though. The brewery is located in a warehouse type of building with a fair amount of architecture relative to firefighters. Although it was a Friday night, the place wasnt as full because it was still early. I went straight to the bar for a Firemen's Ale. Apparently half of the proceeds go to burn victims; generous of them. Mike and I met with a few classmates, but couldn't find the majority (they were allegedly in the back of the place). So, we went upstairs to the pool tables with a few of the AIGA folk, played for a little while, and called it a night.
All in all, it was a positive experience. Got some feedback on the porfolio, chatted with professionals, got to interact with some of my classmates outside of class, the Cleveland city atmosphere...All good things.