Skip to main content

Steamboat Magazine

Good Design Makes Life Better

12/05/2012 07:47PM ● By Christina Freeman

Designers gather for Yampa Valley Design Guild's summer workshop/Courtesy Yampa Valley Design Guild

Graphic artists donate talent to community

The best intentions, the smallest budgets. Nonprofit board members know that marketing and public relations are crucial, but their budgets just won’t support their efforts.

Yampa Valley Design Guild, Steamboat’s professional graphic design group, wanted to help. Guild members sent out requests for proposals to local nonprofits and selected one recipient to be the beneficiary of last summer’s premiere Steamboat Design Camp. Nine graphic designers from the East Coast, Midwest and even Alaska gathered in Steamboat Springs for this weeklong, intense collaborative design experience.

The campers worked with Yampa Valley Data Partners, which gathers and distributes data for decision-making and community collaboration in the Yampa Valley, western Colorado and at the state level. Working with YVDP executive director Kate Nowak, the campers produced print materials, redesigned the logo and provided a fresh look for YVDP’s most well known pieces, the Community Indicators Project and the Economic Forecast Newsletter.

“I loved working with people from all across the U.S. I would definitely try to keep this up in the years to come. It worked out so well that none of us knew each other. It allowed us to bond so much more. And now we all have so many more touch points across the country,” says Lisa Hoeynck of Denver.

The designers were fairly split in terms of experience. About half were seniors in college or recent college grads and half were working professionals with several years of graphic design experience.

“The work we were doing wasn’t just for a client, but for a town and its community and businesses. Being nestled within the micro-culture for which we were designing felt unique and energizing, yet completely normal and foundational to what we do as designers,” says Jacob DeGeal of Normal, Ill.

In the end, campers contributed more than $30,000 of design work to YVDP. “We won the lottery. The campers were a complete joy to work with on this project. If it weren’t for the Steamboat Design Camp, we would not have had this wonderful opportunity,” Nowak says.

Lest the name “camp” mislead you, it wasn’t all work and no play — and no one had to sleep in a tent. Housed on the ski mountain with trails outside the front door, the campers had opportunities for hikes, the rodeo and a gondola ride. Campers also spent an afternoon of drawing and fine art exploration with local artist Gregory Block. They cooked in the their gourmet kitchen with fresh local produce from the Farmer’s Market, and they sampled the dining and entertainment hotspots in downtown Steamboat.

At camp’s end, not only did YVDP have a new look, but nine campers and several Design Guild
members had a renewed understanding of how good design can add value to daily life and the
community. They appreciated the chance to collaborate and make new friends. “After camp, I could go into other collaborative efforts with more confidence,” says Adele Wiejaczka of Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Yampa Valley Design Guild is planning another Steamboat Design Camp next summer. For more information, visit