Sometimes we use Feature Fridays to introduce the community to members they should know, other times we use it to make chapter-related announcements. Today, we’re using our Feature Friday post to introduce you to our newest President, who isn’t new to the game at all. As we wrap up our tenth year as a chapter, we’ve also elected our first female president, Bri Piccari. Bri’s held the Vice President position, as well as Communications during her time on our board and we’re thrilled to be joining the leagues of our neighboring female-run chapters, like Baltimore, Blue Ridge, Philadelphia and DC!
01. Who are you & what do you do?
I’m Bri Piccari, a graduate of Millersville University, cat mom of two, and currently a designer & in-house developer at The Infantree. I’m also teaching my first class with Girl Develop It this November & was recently elected into the role of President of AIGA Central PA. I’m absolutely ecstatic to be instilled with the honor of serving as our first female president!
02. How long have you been in the field? Where did you go to school? What for?
Post-grad, I’ve been in the field for just under two years. But. I did hold a number of internships in college (5, but who’s counting). Each gave me experiences and lessons that have shaped me into the designer I am today.
Education-wise, I started out the Art Institute of Philadelphia and transferred to Millersville University of Pennsylvania after two quarters. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Art with a concentration in Graphic & Interactive Design in May of 2014. Fun fact: I’m the first of my family to graduate with a college degree!
03. Why did you join AIGA & eventually become a board member? How has it benefited you? Why should someone else become a board member?
I joined in college, as a student member. During my short time at AIPh, I attended a few meetings for their student group, where I created friendships with incredibly talented designers that I still talk to today. At Millersville we had a requirement of attending one on-campus and one off-campus event per semester. It made sense financially to join the chapter and start networking to find internships and whatnot. In college I helped form a student group that I believe was reinstated recently.
I became a board member shortly after graduating. I started out as communications chair, running social media & connecting with our members and community. It was a ton of work but so worth it. Being on the front line of chapter communications is a neat experience. I remember when I got the tweet that Aaron Draplin landed in Harrisburg October 2014. My first big event was his lecture at PCAD, after that event I experienced the post-AIGA-event high that comes from the passion of creating an incredible design community. For me, creating opportunity and an universal level of respect for the designers in this area was what got me hooked. The ability to make a difference kept me around. In May of 2015, I was elected to the position of Vice President where I headed up bringing the AIGA Women’s Leadership Initiative to the local level and increased our board by 50%. It’s neat to see this come full circle and become the first female president of this chapter. I think it’s a great way to end our tenth year.
04. Why Central Pennsylvania?
I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, started college in Center City but transferred to Lancaster County. Something about the openness and beauty of the landscape interested me enough to keep me here. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the mom and pop shops, the market in Downtown Lancaster, and the culture. I knew I wasn’t leaving anytime soon. I developed a love for the area, and then I fell in love with the design talent. There is so much hidden talent in this area and I just want to bring it all to the light. We have so many freelancers and in house teams that don’t get the recognition they deserve! Last year’s In Haus Kreativ and some of the first Coffee & Critiques in Harrisburg really showed me that. Getting involved with this chapter to the extent that I have has basically insured me staying in this area for at least another two years to help bring some of this talent to light and help create relationships among creatives and related industries.
05. What’s your favorite part of the job?
As a developer + designer at the Infantree, playing a role in solving our client’s creative problems is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding tasks that I have ever taken part in. It’s thrilling to solve a design, and have the client come back thrilled we’ve presented them with something so on point so quickly. As someone in the design & development worlds, balancing the challenges of both of them, but also using my knowledge of both to separate myself from my competition has been key and an experience in itself. I love design, but the challenge that comes with development keeps me on my toes. Having an eye for design has really helped me become a solid developer.
As a board member of AIGA Central PA, finding ways to celebrate our members, create opportunities for them and meeting those our community reaches have all kept me so heavily involved. The design community in this area is so strong, and growing that community is absolutely crucial to design in this area. There’s also things like the Women’s Leadership Initiative and Design For Good that keep me falling in love with AIGA over and over again.
06. What advice do you have for students?
1. Get involved! Seriously. Have a student group? Join and participate and eventually run for a board position. Don’t have one? Create one. Bringing design and design culture to your college isn’t just beneficial for you, but for everyone it touches. We love having volunteers (our entire board is volunteer run!) and volunteering says a lot about someone’s passion and dedication, especially when we get student volunteers.
2. Learn to love design. The amount of time I spend outside of work working on my design and development skills is invaluable. When I graduated college, I knew the kind of position I wanted in five years and I started on that journey. I got to that five year job goal a little early, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop learning. Keep learning. Figure out what you love about design and hone in on that.
3. Intern. I can’t begin to express the gratitude to every internship I have. Each one gave me experiences college could never teach me, and all of those internships prepared me for a ‘real life job’, as I called it. Each internship prepared me for things like dealing with vendors and directing photoshoots to administrative tasks like logging time.
07. Why do you love design?
Although I’m a developer at the Infantree, I get to be involved in many of our web projects. Whether it’s consulting with a designer on best practices or designing wireframes or entire mockups, I get to have a say and express my knowledge and thoughts. I love the ability to visually communicate in design. I love predicting a user’s habits and guiding them towards a goal. The challenge of development and designing for those challenges, the ever changing design styles, the need to constantly push myself and the constantly changing and evolving trends keeps me interested. If design wasn’t a constantly changing creature, I wouldn’t be as hooked as I am.
08. What inspires you to do the work you do?
Oddly, I think it’s bad user experience that inspires me the most to do the best work I possibly can. There’s something about broken websites and learning from other team’s mistakes that inspire me to do my best. The idea of groups and groups of people engaging and interacting with something I’ve created or been a part of is mind-blowing. That level of involvement and engagement is incredibly to think about.
09. How will you use your role as President of AIGA Central PA to benefit the design community & beyond?
Oh gosh, I’m really just here to help my board create the best design community we possibly can. Each board member works hard to put on events and further their initiatives and responsibilities. When I became Vice President, I became involved in the AIGA Women’s Initiative and I’d like to see that become a more prominent piece of our programming. Our first event was a huge success and got the conversation going. I want to continue that conversation and expand upon it. It’s 2015, we should be everyone the same, regardless of occupation, gender or race.
Coming out of our tenth year we’re really in the position to solidify goals of this chapter, and cultivate things that will help future boards get past the administrative tasks and tackle the problems that plague our design community. Knowing I can help our future chapter leaders inspires me to make sure that everything I do helps them in some way. That’s not to say I’m not paying attention to today’s needs. I’m here to motivate our current board members, inspire future board members and engage community members. If I can reach anyone who’s been interested in getting involved for some time and wasn’t sure how to get started, I’ll be happy. I just want to see this chapter succeed and continue to grow and inspire the community we’re immersed in.
Know a local designer who could use some recognition? Nominate a member to be a Feature Friday designer by emailing Bri their name, company and contact information.