The AIGA Chicago Mentorship Program gives creatives from across disciplines a place to gather and share insights, experiences and resources. With programming that supports any level of experience, we have collaborative mentor groups that develop a curriculum based on the community needs.

Registration opens September 5th at 10am!

How it works

Sessions of the mentor program are held over the course of 11 weeks on Wednesday evenings at various locations throughout Chicago. The program meets each week, alternating between your individual mentor groups (9/18, 10/2, 10/16, 10/30, 11/13), and our all-group events open to all Fall 2019 participants (9/11, 9/25, 10/9, 10/23, 11/6, 11/20). Bookended by our kickoff event and wrap-up party, we may have studio tours, designer talks, workshops, and portfolio reviews. Check out #AIGAChiMentor to get a snapshot of the program on Instagram.

The program is $50 for AIGA members, $100 non-members, and $25 for student members. There is also a hidden cost: your time! We ask that you commit your time to the full 11-weeks to make for the best experience for your whole group.

Participants work in a group of 8-10 mentees, comprising a spectrum of creative fields organized by shared interest and career level. At our kickoff session, you will have the opportunity to meet the mentors and choose your top three group choices. We then form groups by order of registration for the event until each group hits capacity. Here are this session’s topics and mentors:

Portfolio Improvement

Whether it’s to find that new gig or seeing your own work in a new light, this group is all about your portfolio and you. We’ll be focusing on the nuts and bolts of portfolio refinement as well as improving your relationship with your own work as a way to better tell your story. 

Mentors (2 Groups): 

Jeff Stanley, Lead Graphic Designer at Hollister Inc.

Meet Jeff and learn what to expect from from his session:



Laura Nesbitt, Graphic Design Manager at American Academy of Sleep Medicine 

Meet Laura and learn what to expect from her session:


Navigating a Creative Career in Corporate America

You’ve gotten that job you were interested in and it’s in a corporate environment… how do you navigate all those other moving pieces? If you’re a designer at any stage in the game who is asking yourself things like: “How do I define my next step? How do I negotiate a rate/raise? How do I work in a corporate office space as a creative alongside non-creatives? How do I pitch an idea to my leadership team?,” then this is the group to explore that in.

Mentor: Lauren Versino, Freelance Graphic Designer at Wilson Sporting Goods

Meet Lauren and learn what to expect from her session:


Design Confidence

What is the difference between art & work to you? Make a ripple in life; what does that look like to you? Let’s break the barrier by pushing our confidence to the next level of comfort. Let’s stand out and showcase our work so hiring managers and clients can see what our worth—through our design talent—is.

Mentor: Payal Gandhi, Digital Designer at Tribune Publishing 

Meet Payal and learn what to expect from her session:


Creative Entrepreneurship & the Art of the Side Hustle

If you’re happy with a 9-5 job at an agency where you just take your check and go home, this is not the class for you. We’re going to talk about the ins and outs of what goes into starting your own creative business. From simple things like LLC’s vs Sole Proprietorships to the more complex of how to position yourself with potential clients, this class will be driven by wherever you are in your process of building your side hustle. While we will have set topics, this will be driven by the experience level of the group.

Mentor: Max Billings, Founder and Brand Designer at EightySeven

Meet Max and learn what to expect from his session:


Women In Design

Hannah and Erin be focusing on the great aspects, the difficult aspects, and everything in between for people who identify as a woman in design. Our meetings will include things like sharing and creating resources for women designers by women designers, client relationships as a woman in design, eliminating self-diminishing words from our vocabulary, building up other women in your workplace, being assertive and confident without folding to criticism or pressure, acknowledging your accomplishments, and so much more.

Co-Mentors: Hannah Rebernick & Erin Agnoli

Meet Hannah and learn what to expect from her session with Erin:


Collaborate on a Group Digital Project

Work through the process of making a digital product from creating a brief through to the creation of a digital product. 

Mentor: Tom Belmonte, Sr. Art Director at Critical Mass

Meet Tom and learn what to expect from his session:


Design Tool-belt

Focus on expanding your skillset as a designer covering a range of skills from networking, to creating type or hand lettering, through to executing a final project and many things in between.

Co-Mentors: Blanca Cortes, Freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator; and Angelina Gilliana, Brand Ambassador at Mohawk Fine Paper

Meet Angelina and Blanca and learn what to expect from their session:


Prototyping with

Creating UI designs in sketch or Figam then building out a working interactive prototype with

Mentor: Max Young 

Meet Max and learn what to expect from his session:


Design Systems

All about design systems form the why to the how and all of the questions in between.

Mentor: Jamie Hsu

Meet Jamie and learn what to expect from his session:


Diversity in Design

Defining what Diversity is in the industry and how this topic impacts you, your career, and the community as a whole.

Co-Mentors: Elle Abarca, Associate Creative Director at VSA Partners  & Daniel Escamilla, Graphic Designer at American Medical Association

Meet Elle and Daniel and learn what to expect from their session:


How to get involved

Our Fall 2019 Mentor Program will be open to mentees for registration on September 5th at 10am, and kicks off on September 11th. If you’d like to get involved, let us know! We’ll add your name to the notification list for the next round in case you didn’t make it in this time.  You can always keep up with the program via Facebook and Instagram (that’s where we’ll announce all of our important news!)

Get in touch

Have questions? Hit up Mentorship Chair, Eric Irving, at

Shout outs

Thanks to Glantz Design for creating the visual identity and graphic for the Fall 2019 program. And thank you to Mess for volunteering their time, resources and workspace to create our mentor snapshot videos. They are all amazing! 

Thank you to the full committee for making all of this happen: Eric Irving, Leslie Presto, Megan Jackson, Adrian Aguilar, Hayley Gallat, Melody Pohla, and Yash Rastogi.