May 05



Oniracom’s latest collaboration with AIGA Santa Barbara happened this past weekend, when CEO Jacob Tell and Art Director Tad Wagner reprised their roles as reviewers at AIGA SB’s annual Portfolio Day. For those of you who might not know, AIGA is the professional association for design, and AIGA Santa Barbara is one of 70 chapters across the nation. For me, one of many cool benefits of being AIGA SB President is being able to include Oniracom in our design-related, educational, and networking events for the local creative community.

AIGA SB’s Portfolio Day offers students and emerging designers a great opportunity to connect with working creative professionals, get feedback on their work, and gain insights on finding and keeping a job in the industry. The last time Jacob and Tad contributed as reviewers, the event was held at HQ in Carpinteria. This year, they drove down to Brooks Institute’s Ventura campus and joined me in the cavernous Studio B, a working sound stage.

As reviewers in one-on-one sessions, Tad and Jacob encouraged students to use and refine their creative skills, and to discuss their work and goals with confidence. Students needed to understand that presenting their portfolio is a crucial step, but only the first step, in their creative career. Taking direction, accepting criticism, working well with others, and creating against a budget/timeline were just as essential to landing and keeping a professional creative position.


“I love how the AIGA Portfolio Day is evolving. The new structure pairs reviewers more closely with the student’s interests and allows more time for in-depth conversation. The students are taking a big risk by showing up and displaying their best work. So I’m glad that AIGA is always looking for better ways to support them.”—Tad Wagner

42 attendees and 24 reviewers took part in three 30-minute discussion/feedback sessions. Students and observers came from all over the 805: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara City College, Brooks Institute, Moorpark College, and California State University, Channel Islands. Reviewers spanned industry disciplines; graphic design, marketing, typography, web development, multimedia, animation, hand lettering and more were represented. Attendees chose which reviewers they got to speak with, and one of every three sessions expanded to a roundtable discussion for diverse dialogue.


“It’s always a welcome experience feeding off the energy in a room full of creatives. AIGA’s Portfolio Day is a perfect breeding ground of eager presenters and seasoned reviewers, connecting individually or in small groups I enjoyed meeting the designers and wish them all success in their endeavors!”—Jacob Tell

Jacob also took part in a roundtable session, which was this year’s novel idea and seemed to work well. At each table, up to 5 students participated in give-and-take with one reviewer for multiple views on their work from both pros and peers. The reviewers’ task was to help students and emerging designers determine how well they presented and defended their own process and work—from concept to composition to execution—in the context of job interviews and/or client presentations.

This was my first Portfolio Day as AIGA SB President, and I won’t lie—I was worried that the various changes and moving parts for this event might not stack up well against the past 6 years. However, I had lots of help from a retinue of volunteers, and everyone came through like champs so we could get it done. Thanks to Jacob and Tad for returning as reviewers!