[Troy Monroe] A little over a week ago Design is Love celebrated its first anniversary. I’m excited about the progress we’ve made sharing this initiative with a worldwide audience, and the yearlong journey has proved our inclinations to be fact: We can build meaningful relationships by sharing creative ideas and leveraging emotional connections to deepen the work on which we collaborate. It’s not just about doing great “work” — it’s about doing great things together that help shape a community around the idea of “do good.”
We’d like to celebrate with you by taking a brief tour of our online home (cue feet shuffling towards the entrance). For those of you who are already familiar with the site, there’s always something new to check out — and we hope you’ll continue to visit. And for those who haven’t yet stopped by our humble abode, “Hi. We’re happy you’re here.”
A little overview for context: After graduating from the Hartford Art School, I began to contemplate the following question: “How can we, as designers, become more emotionally invested in our work and find other opportunities that would benefit from the mindfulness we put into the ideas we care about most?” It took seven years and finding a work environment that nurtures personal project development (thanks to the co:lab team), but Design is Love has become the place I envisioned.
There are three points of entry to the Design is Love site, giving our members a range of options for engagement.
First stop: inwords. This biweekly discussion is the easiest way to get involved with our online community. It’s accessible, changes often, and encourages an ongoing conversation. We post a topic and let our members shape the dialogue. In case the words aren’t enough to keep you coming back, we rotate in a fresh guest artist every three months to help shape the visual language of the section.
We’ve had the good fortune of working with a series of amazing illustrators over the past year. Guest artists have included, from top: row 1, Chris Piascik; row 2, Claudia Smith; row 3, David Senior; row 4, Rich Hollant; row 5, Richard Mia.
Next there’s the Design Fund, a quarterly charrette that gives members a chance to create personal work that, if selected, gets produced at no charge to the artist. Samples of the finished product are delivered to the “winner,” and we put the remaining stock up for sale in our shop to generate funds for future projects. Many of us struggle to fund personal work, and this is our way of hopefully making things easier for members. I believe there’s great value in the personal development that happens when you create something just for you. Our entire community then benefits from your participation. In the end we’re all better because of your creativity.
I’m proud of the work we’ve helped produce, and I find great inspiration in the lasting relationships we’ve created through collaboration. We recently partnered with Kickstarter to complement our current funding model, making our message more accessible and easier to share. Jump in and support — we’re offering some tantalizing rewards for our Backers.
We saved the most ambitious section for last. Visitors, meet Helping Hand. Whether you’re a nonprofit looking for help with a creative project or a creative who wants to align your skills with a cause that matters to you, this is your place. Helping Hand is a way to start relationships with real professionals who share your goals and vision. It gives creatives direct access to paying jobs posted by professional leaders who consider relationship-building to be a core tenet of their business model.
Our tour is quickly coming to an end, but we encourage you to stop by our shop on your way out. The shelves are fully stocked with Design Fund projects and other cool shirts and posters we’ve been part of creating. Hey, we need to have some fun, too! All proceeds from each purchase support future Design Fund projects and our ongoing efforts to sustain and improve the Design is Love environment. We hope you’ll pick up a souvenir to remember your trip.
At Design is Love, we believe creativity has the power to bring people together. The resulting collaborations will deepen our thinking, create social awareness, and most importantly, make us better communicators as we share connective messaging with the world. We invite you to become a member and shape our creative community. Remember, participation is caring. Let’s do great things together, always with heart … for the love. Hope you enjoyed the tour.
Troy Monroe wakes up every morning and puts two rubberbands on his right wrist: The first is a reminder to make more time for looking, and the second is a reminder to never be satisfied with his work. He applies that eye for detail and strong work ethic as a designer at co:lab, while also leading the development of the Design is Love initiative. He also currently serves as president of the Connecticut Art Directors Club.