Being a member of AIGA opens doors of opportunity. Everyone receives a different experience, and it is just that, an experience. Some people are looking for networks which could be in the form of employees, employers or simply contacts. Others are looking for friends with similar interests, and many are looking for an outlet to get involved in something they can apply their creative abilities to.
Involvement can come in many forms: volunteering, collaborations and participation in events are just a few examples. One instance of involvement leads to another as more opportunities start to present themselves until one find themselves, not just a member, but a leader within the organization, helping to advance the organization, community and design in general.
That’s the experience of an AIGA chapter President. For part one of two specialized membership spotlights, we would like to highlight the AIGA Jacksonville chapter Presidents, beginning with this year’s outgoing President, Varick Rosete.
Varick Rosete is a fun guy that loves art and design, even after 10+ years in the business as an accomplished designer. After spending 5 years in the advertising world at Husk Jennings, he left to play in the web world by helping start up nGen Works, one of the leading web development firms in the country. After another 5 years or so, Varick is now on his own and has moved on to the next challenge: motion and video…while also getting back to overall design thinking and illustration work.
Being a chapter president is a pretty big position to take on, so starting out… let’s talk about starting out. When first coming into AIGA, what is it that got you involved, and kept you involved in the early stages?
Hahhaa…great question. Y’know, at the time, there really was no intention of being where I am today, meaning President. Honestly, I just wanted to get into a network of other designers – that idea of community and camaraderie. Professionally, I was working at Husk Jennings, a well-known advertising design firm in town, and wanted representation for our group within this design community. What was the segue in? Cocktails & Creatives. I believe it was Russel Quadros that made it comfortable to come in and meet people. Gotta watch out for that cat. Heh. From there, I like to say, it became pretty infectious – hanging out with other like-minded designers, going to some great speaking events and just wanting to help out where I could, getting more people involved. After showing up to numerous AIGA events, i became part of the Board, first as Membership Chair, then as Vice-President, and finally becoming President. Wild ride, indeed.
Clearly, one doesn’t just jump into the role of chapter President; could you tell us a little bit about what roles you headed on the board, and your experiences in those other roles?
So when I first came onboard, I remember being approached with several options by Ron Hubbard, who was President (or Co-President) at the time. I remember him asking if I wanted to take on Programming, which honestly, I didn’t know what Programming entailed at that time. I just knew that I wanted to meet and connect people, which was a big reason why I was getting involved in the first place. Becoming Membership Chair just seemed to be a more natural fit at this point. Looking back, I wish I could have done more in this position. I mean, nothing really held me back but myself and my dedicated time. I’m glad I was able to find excellent successors to the position, though, and transfer the knowledge that I had to them. It feels so good when you see people after you excel.
After Membership, I became Vice-President. And actually, the Vice-President at the time, Tina Veitch, had to leave because she was going to be a proud momma. So the position opened up, and I guess you could say I reluctantly accepted it. It’s funny because I remember attending the AIGA National Leadership Retreat in Omaha, NE in 2008 and I had to stand-in for Ron at the Presidents’ Luncheon. What appears to happen here is that whoever represents the chapter at this luncheon…ends up becoming President. I made this joke with AIGA Honolulu all the time because the same thing happened to them. I mean, I told everyone there that I was standing in for the President who could not attend, and everyone basically said, “Congratulations, you’re the next President.” Too funny how that all worked out. In any case, being Vice-President gave me a look into more of the inner workings of the organization and how it ran and I began to take it a lot more seriously after this. But, of course, still making it a fun time.
You’ve found yourself in a great number of projects, events and non-profit collaborations with the community (within and outside of AIGA) — could you talk about a couple of these that stand out to you, and what it is about this type of involvement that attracts you?
Well the drive now is to promote the city of Jacksonville. We live in a pretty damned good city, I think. I tell people “The great thing about the city is that you can go your own speed. You can either chill and take it easy, or you can go fast and make some waves.” Specifically talking about those places where you have to keep up or the city just eats you alive. With Jacksonville, because there is so much potential here, anyone, and everyone, can help mold it to a place where we want it to be. There’s such a great entrepreneurial spirit here with tons of talent on both the creative-side and the technology-side. We have the resources, so all we gotta do is start connecting all of these pieces together. Our collective initiative for these efforts can be found at beonespark.
Additionally, I’ve taken part in establishing a collaborative co-working space in Jacksonville called CoWork Jax to help provide space for all the like-minded independent/small business owners that we have in town. More specifically, the ton of freelance designers in Jacksonville, creating a space where they, along with developers, business owners, etc. can partner on projects and other initiatives. Again, there are so many ideas out there and so much great talent in this city.
I also love animals, so I’ve been helping out with the Friends of Jacksonville Animals and the Animal Care and Protective Services with the “Down to Zero” campaign, helping Jacksonville’s homeless pets find permanent homes. I’m actually a proud owner of one of these rescue pups. You can follow along on their site, and if you wanna follow my pup, she’s @lilwicket on Twitter. =)
As chapter President, what would you say was your main goal, and also, what would you say were some of your most notable personal accomplishments?
Overall, my main goal for AIGA Jacksonville was to create inspiration and motivation through some unique and unorthodox Programming events which basically took our design community off the computer and back to thinking with our minds. As designers, our greatest asset is our ability to think creatively to solve problems. So we had events that people could create more with their hands. “The Atomic Sketch” event which allowed members of AIGA to draw and paint out in public, while also raising funds and awareness for the chapter. “Designers in Toyland” brought everyone back to their childhood where everyone created a toy, either from scratch or modified, as long as you made it. That particular event brought out so many different types of designers and artists, as well. The “Always Summer” Poster Show was also another good showcase of talent that we have in this city where designers would create a poster about a song that reminds them of summer. Man, there’s so many cool events that we did. The live design challenge, “Krung Fu,” pitted designer vs. designer to create a finalized piece on the spot in front of an audience that could see everything you were doing. The event came complete with heckling, too. That event really tested your brainstorming/thinking skills. “The Morning Leak” event balanced out our social happy hours at “Cocktails & Creatives.” We’ve got a great community that feeds off the energy of others, so having this show-and-tell event in the middle of the week became such a great inspiration for everyone before heading into their day-to-day work. OH! AIGA Jacksonville won a trophy from the City Rescue Mission Bed Race for best designed bed that we helped raise funds for to help the homeless. That was pretty awesome. Let’s see, we tackled inspiration, motivation, the arts, sharing and caring…and through all of this, I’d like to think we were pretty vocal. Exposure for the organization was key to a lot of things we did. Go out, do some great things and tell people about them. Tell them what they missed out on. Remind them of how much fun we had doing it all. It shows, man. AIGA Jacksonville is a lot more recognized in the community as being an influential player in the cultural landscape of the city moving forward. I’m seriously excited for AIGA to be in the picture….I hope that answers the question. HahAHAaa, I tend to ramble about things I’m super stoked about.
As you step down, and pass the reigns… what’s next for Varick Rosete?
Well, taking a slight break, fo sho. It’s been a lot of hard work and dedicated time, but man, I love AIGA Jacksonville. My biggest hope for the organization is that I’ve set up my successors with the proper tools and avenues and leadership skills to carry on strongly, in both their participation with the organization and with their own personal careers. For me, it’ll definitely be getting back to focus on some personal projects that I have: focusing on my own personal brand, still breaking into the motion and video field, creating a super studio, developing culture Downtown and taking a break to sleep every once in awhile. I’ll definitely still be involved with AIGA Jacksonville, too. Most of my friends are part of it, plus AIGA Jacksonville knows how to party. HahAhAHaaa…that was great to hear at this past Leadership Retreat. It was very cool to have other chapters approach us and ask to hang out cuz they wanted to know what we were up to. I think it’s a great honor. Definitely work hard and play hard. What’s next for Varick Rosete? I’d say I’m going to take it day-by-day and enjoy everything that I do and take it from there.
You can find more from Varick on his website: http://varickrosete.com/
To better get to know Varick though, follow his blog V as in Vulture.
or, his pup Wicket on Twitter @lilwicket
— jim, membership co-director