A Tale of Two Olives Converges at One AIGA Event

Each year, AIGA Minnesota hosts Portfolio 1-on-1®, an event connecting eager students and recent graduates to local design agencies and experienced professionals. The event includes individual portfolio reviews, agency tours, and a panel where students can ask pressing career and design questions. This year, AIGA approached Olive when it came time to design the 2016 event poster—a request that brought a couple unique and inspiring Olive stories to light. Stories that reveal just how deeply connected our team is to this phenomenal event.

The Student

Two years ago, a Winona State University student attended Portfolio 1-on-1. Doing so ignited the spark that would lead to a professional career for that student. Her name is Leah Gauquie and she’s now one of Olive’s talented designers.

While attending the event, Leah quickly realized Portfolio 1-on-1 was a valuable opportunity to receive real feedback from professionals in the industry and explore local design agencies. It just so happens, Leah was randomly assigned to Olive for one of her three studio tours. She had heard the Olive name before, and even passed by our doors a time or two, but Portfolio 1-on-1 would be the first time she would walk through our threshold. During the tour, Olive invited everyone in the student group to apply for a summer design internship. Leah immediately accepted the invitation, submitting a portfolio that proved to be a perfect match for Olive. Nearly two years later and Leah’s no longer a valued intern, but an experienced, full-time Olive designer.

The Mentor

By Leah’s side from the day she joined Olive, helping her grow into a full-fledged designer, was Leah’s mentor, Olive art director, Jessie Reagen. The mentor-mentee relationship they developed fostered productive collaboration within the Olive team. But that isn’t the only way their design journeys are connected. By some form of happenstance, or even fate, perhaps, Jessie herself attended Portfolio 1-on-1 eight years before Leah—and was equally impacted as she stood on the cusp of graduation.

Jessie attended AIGA’s event as a student from Iowa State University. In doing so, her view on design as a career was profoundly altered. The honest feedback from Minneapolis designers gave her a confidence boost, triggering the realization that she could make a professional career out of graphic design.

The Poster

Leah’s and Jessie’s stories came together when AIGA approached Olive to design the annual Portfolio 1-on-1 event poster. Because this event resonated on such a personal level with these two, this project was seen as an opportunity to give back to the event that inspired them and jumpstarted their careers.

“From 2014 student attendee to designer for the 2016 Portfolio 1-on-1 creative, I feel as if I have come full circle in a way. This opportunity has allowed me to reflect on my design career and look forward to new possibilities in the future. I feel fortunate to work in a wonderful agency where I can improve my craft and learn from true mentors in the field.”

– Leah Gauquie, Olive designer

Every year, the selected design agency is asked to create an identity to communicate a theme chosen by AIGA. This year, AIGA asked Olive to interpret Eye to Eye. Upon receiving the project, Jessie and Leah immediately gathered various Olive creatives in a brainstorming session where we would define what Eye to Eye meant to Portfolio 1-on-1 and Olive and determine how to portray those perspectives visually. It was a lively, thought-provoking creative exercise for our team, and everyone involved truly enjoyed it.

Following the brainstorm, Jessie and Leah got to work creating the identity. The result perfectly represents how Portfolio 1-on-1 brings students and graduates eye to eye with professionals. On level ground, each brings their own perspectives to the table, each has something to offer the other.

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The Event

A decade after attending Portfolio 1-on-1, Jessie will help inspire a new generation of students by leading a studio tour at Olive. She’ll also be one of the select professional designers on AIGA’s Portfolio 1-on-1 panel. The importance of the event is not lost on Jessie, and she appreciates the opportunity.

“It’s really important to give back. It’s a huge honor to be a part of it on this side, now. To have the opportunity to impact so many students at once.”

– Jessie Reagen, Olive art director

The experience has reminded Olive of how impactful local marketing and design organizations and their events are to our studio and community as a whole. We’re grateful we were afforded the chance to contribute to the cause of an inspiring organization like AIGA and hope to continue doing projects like this one in the future.