What’s Next: AIGA Chicago 2015 Individual Student Grant

You’re just about to finish design school (or you’ve finished very recently), and you are likely asking yourself, “What’s Next?” While you may have a job lined up, what about all that energy for research, exploration, and experimentation that an educational setting supports?

AIGA Chicago is offering you the opportunity to take initiative and propose a project that will extend your studies, advance your design research, kickstart your career, or otherwise progress your own creative momentum—in a manner that is visible and to be shared with the broader design community.  Don’t wait for what’s next.

Our goal is to foster a community of emerging designers that are proactive, engaged, and bold risk-takers by supporting self-initiated projects and practices undertaken by recent graduates. We hope to advance the designers that undertake such projects and simultaneously encourage discourse within the community that supports them. With the 2015 Individual Student Grant, we are offering an award of $3,000 to assist one recent graduate to initiate a unique, viable, and focused design project to produce and share with the Chicago design community.

If you are a recent graduate from a Chicago area design program, or a recent grad working in the Chicago area, and you have a project that you believe will make positive impacts on both your advancement and the local design community, then AIGA Chicago encourages you to apply. It doesn’t have to be a big project. But, it does need to contribute something for all of us to share. Whatever your passion may be, propose a project that will produce something original and incisive that you’d like to undertake within the next six months.

Make a case for your project with a Proposal. Make a case for yourself with a Portfolio. Define your own future. Be what’s next!


Previously Funded
Last year’s recipient of the What’s Next Grant was Amy Schwartz, who used the grant to initiate Liminal Space. Just out of grad school, Amy was determined to create a new space in Chicago that would encourage experimentation and risk-taking among the area’s young and emerging designers. Liminal Space is multi-functional studio space that hosts workshops, lectures, discussions, exhibitions, and other forms of design research and dialogue. AIGA Chicago was proud support this project, which has benefitted a large portion of the design community and proven Amy to be a prominent voice in local design dialogue.


Eligibility & Requirements

  • Open to all Chicago-area AIGA members graduating from a full-time design program within the 2014-2015 academic year (Fall 2014–Fall 2015), regardless of major.
  • Applicant must be a current AIGA member. To join AIGA, renew your membership or check on your membership status, go to my.aiga.org. For information about membership levels and the benefits available at each, go to aiga.org/join (You do not need to belong to an AIGA student group to apply).
  • Open to recent graduates from both undergraduate and graduate programs.
  • The portion of your project supported by these funds must be completed by December 31, 2015.
  • AIGA Chicago will ask you to share periodic updates on your process with the AIGA community via blog posts.
  • AIGA Chicago will ask you to present the results of your work to our board and the community when the project is complete.

To apply, complete the application form below and submit a single PDF containing:

  • Proposal stating clearly the work that the award will support. Your Proposal should include a title, the concept, a timeline for completion, your objectives or goals, any costs that the award may be used to cover for the production of your work, and how you believe the project will impact your career and the broader design community. No more than two pages describing what you intend to make, write, or otherwise create with the award.
  • Portfolio of design work. You may submit more than one image per project but no more than 10 images total. Please include project title, media, and a very brief description of each assignment or project. Label your materials clearly with your name, school affiliation, degree sought, and graduation date.
  • Letter of recommendation from a professor in your program.
  • Use the form below to enter Applicant’s Information.
  • Submit your sample images as a single PDF (no larger than 10mb) to education@chicago.aiga.org


Proposals Due: Deadline Extended! Proposals due June 9, 2015

Award Recipient Announced: June, 2015
Project Complete (with report to AIGA Chicago Board): by December 31, 2015

Proposals will be judged by a panel of three judges: one current AIGA Chicago board member, one member of our Advisory Board, and a member at large. Proposals will be judged based on their perceived impact on both the designer undertaking the project and the community, the clarity of intent, and the feasibility of the proposed project—to be considered in conjunction with the strength of the Portfolio. The grant recipient will be notified once judging has taken place and will be announced publicly in June, 2015.

If you have any questions regarding the submission process, please contact Matt Wizinsky, AIGA Chicago Education co-Chair at matt@chicago.aiga.org.

By AIGA Chicago
Published May 3, 2015
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