Amy Fidler and Jenn Stucker have designs on the local arts sceneWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Between teaching at Bowling Green State University, serving on the AIGA board, running SWEAT, working on their own projects and motherhood, graphic designers Amy Fidler and Jenn Stucker juggle a number of roles.
The pair, who understand each other’s life demands and share similar ideas with different artistic approaches, began collaborating in 2007.
“We have a really good, I think I used the word once, relay. We’re really good about deciding and having a vision of what we want to do and we both sort of march in that direction. Then if one of us sort of fatigues, the other one comes in and starts running. When that person peters out — we kind of know when to chime in,” Stucker said.
Together the pair has been able to accomplish more than if they were pursuing projects on their own, Fidler said.
“Jenn and I take on so many more things working together than we would alone. I don’t know if it is because when you’re working by yourself it’s easy to underestimate what you’re capable of, or you don’t have that motivation or a little scared,” she said. “If you get someone else to say ‘Oh, wait this is a good idea’ or ‘OK, let’s do it,’ then suddenly you have this support and you get braver — committed, because suddenly you’re held to something and you’re accountable.”
In October 2007, Fidler and Stucker both founded the Toledo chapter of AIGA, a professional design association with more than 20,000 members nationally. They formed the local chapter because if designers wanted to hear speakers they’d have to travel hours and the other groups lacked the “sense of community.”
AIGA Toledo began with 35 members and is up to 101 members, made up of professionals and students. Fidler was the chapter’s first president and Stucker was vice president.
Currently, Stucker is AIGA Toledo president and Fidler is still on the chapter’s board.
In May, the local chapter hosted the national AIGA Design Educators Conference, “Responseability; Ethics and Sustainability in Design Education.” Fidler and Stucker were co-conference committee chairmen with Matt Davis, who was AIGA Toledo education chairman at the time.
“The conference is really great because people don’t think of Northwest Ohio as a design destination. All across the country you think of L.A., New York and Chicago and all these urban centers and for the AIGA Toledo chapter to be awarded a design educators conference is a pretty big deal,” Fidler said.
In addition, the local AIGA chapter helps local nonprofits. Through a one-day concentrated effort, designers donate their time to create a logo, letterhead, business card and website for an area nonprofit. Designers meet with the client early in the day and debrief, learning the needs and challenges of the organization, and then begin the process of how to “brand” the nonprofit, Stucker said.
The services the designers donate during the day may otherwise be too expensive or take too long for the nonprofits, Fidler said.
“For us to be able to help them just extends their reach,” she said.
Last year the designers provided their services to Martin Luther King Kitchen for the Poor. This year, through an application process, AIGA Toledo worked with Self Expression Teen Theater.
Through AIGA, Fidler and Stucker learned of The Urban Forest Project, which was being showcased in cities around the United States. The pair approached the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (ACGT) and were able to take the estimated $100,000 budget and bring the project to Toledo for a fourth of the cost.
The Urban Forest Project features 50 banners, displayed around Downtown Toledo, that use the metaphor of trees to make a visual statement about the environment. The banners, created by Northwest Ohio graphic artists, went up in April in conjunction with Earth Day and were displayed through Sept. 6. Once removed, the banners will be turned into tote bags and sold to benefit ACGT’s Young Artists at Work Program.
Fidler and Stucker collaborated on one banner that was chosen by judges for the project. Stucker has two banners she designed featured.
In addition to their work with AIGA, Fidler and Stucker also founded Summer Workshop for Experimentation and Thought (SWEAT). In its fourth year, the program focuses on experimental design and each group of participants creates its own project.
“Jenn and I are really passionate about design and work with a lot of wonderful people at BGSU. As you’re going through school the schooling you get in the classroom, even though it’s a wonderful experience, it becomes rote, it becomes expected. You get familiar with your environment,” she said. “We wanted to have the opportunity to do something fun with the students outside the classroom in a more laid back environment.”
During the first year of SWEAT, participants created a book “Toledo Remanufactured,” that explored the graphic culture of Toledo.
The following year, the SWEAT group explored the idea Useless or UseLess Toledo, an intentional play on words, Stucker said. The group created a website and a series of videos that explored how do we envision a greener Toledo and inspire Toledo, she said.
In SWEAT’s third year, participants began the behind the scenes work for The Urban Forest Project.
This year’s SWEAT, which ran from July 26 to July 30, participated in the 100 Hammers Project and created “Eleven Dozen.” The group explored the question “What is the graphic expression of 100 hammers.” The project will have a softcover book and a show for the project, Fidler said.
Stucker, a Colorado native, and Fidler, originally from Whitehouse, have many projects that relate to Toledo and Northwest Ohio. The pair believe the area has great potential for graphic artists.
“There’s always stuff going on. [Toledo is] a very busy, happening town. I guess we’re always trying to show people there is lots of great stuff here. You should really be proud of what you have here, “ Stucker said.
“I intentionally came back to the Northwest Ohio area. We really want to help bring good talent, let people know talent is here, keep talent here and keep design jobs here,” Fidler said. “It benefits us and everyone in the design community anyway to realize that there is great stuff going on here.”
In addition, Fidler and Stucker collaborated on a window for ACGT’s Downtown Windows Project on Huron Street. The project features a quote from Toledo native Gloria Steinem, “Power can be taken but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself,” and is titled “Gloria,” in her honor, Fidler said.
Fidler and Stucker work in the graphic design division of the School of Art at BGSU. They both have been professional graphic designers for more than 10 years.