EPIC Hosts Free DesignCast About Purpose-Driven Design

If you have any interest in change-driven design work, don’t miss this opportunity. EPIC, an organization that pairs Chicago nonprofits with designers  and creatives to achieve a design-focused mission, will be hosting a FREE DesignCast on May 17 — Purpose-Driven Design: The EPIC Experience. EPIC associate director Tiffany Meyers will talk about the EPIC experience and how it impacts the creatives whom volunteer: think creative invigoration, a sense of purpose, not to mention an award-worthy design portfolio pieces.

EPIC inspires changeAs an added bonus, those who register for this FREE DesignCast will get a discount on Christopher Simmons’ book, Just Design, and have the opportunity to receive a discount on registration for the June HOW Design Live conference in Boston!

We took some time to catch up with Meyers since it had been awhile since we last interviewed her and profiled EPIC.


HOW: EPIC provides an infrastructure to join creatives with nonprofits. What is the one thing most of the participants have in common?
Tiffany Meyers: That one’s easy. In a word, heart. Our creative volunteers all share a heart for social service. They want to do something more meaningful with their talent than churn out salad dressing campaigns. And we’re not knocking condiments. Not at all. But we do think people can do both. More than that, we’ve seen that they want to. Creative professionals — because of their brains and their point of view — are uniquely equipped to make change happen for big brands as well as for social causes. EPIC is one way for professionals in Chicago to do that.

HOW: For anyone who hasn’t read my article about EPIC, can you tell them what makes the EPIC model so feasible for designers?
Meyers: Our secret sauce is the eight-week time frame. Each “creative rally” (that’s what we call our collaborative sessions, during which volunteer teams work pro-bono on behalf of a nonprofit) unfolds in eight weeks. That makes the process intense and concentrated, but also feasible. When we started a little over three years ago, we knew that we wanted to make creative volunteerism doable for the most senior-level professionals — people who can’t necessarily join the board of a nonprofit or sign up for a year-long project. For those busy people, eight weeks is manageable. And because our creative volunteers represent some of the most experienced people in the city, they have the chops to create big impact in a short time frame.

HOW: You know we love EPIC and its mission (HOW + Print are proud sponsors of EPIC). Why do you think designers should check out this free DesignCast?
Meyers: And we love HOW back. (Love fest!) I think designers will find our story interesting for a few reasons. We’re a woman-founded nonprofit operating in the creative sphere — led top to bottom by volunteers. We launched just as the economy was bottoming out — an especially hard time for nonprofits — but we’re going strong. I think that’s because our mission aligns with real needs. I think it’s also because everyone involved with EPIC is involved because they want to be. For anyone running a business, or even trying to find the right place to work, there’s something to be said about that.

I hope that designers will also be inspired by the case studies I’ll present — the stories of the work our teams have produced for various pro-bono clients. To me, the stories demonstrate that, when creative people align in a common purpose — when they’re working to help an organization change lives (and, in some cases, save lives) — we can make a big-impact splash even under the tightest of constraints.

HOW: What will be one takeaway attendees will glean from this DesignCast?
Meyers: One of the things I’ll do on May 17 is present some of EPIC’s core beliefs — ideas we’ve adopted (and lessons we’ve learned) through our work at the intersection of creativity and social service. One thing we’ve come to believe: Compassion is a creative tool. I’d love it if listeners stole that core belief —  for themselves and their work.

HOW: HOW Design Live. It’s happening soon and we can’t wait. Will EPIC be there?
Meyers: It’s Beantown or bust. Erin Huizenga, EPIC’s founder and executive director — the woman whose vision, talent and unending moxy made this whole thing possible — will be speaking at the conference prior to the Opening Keynote. And a group of us from EPIC will be there to spread the word about what we’re up to in Chi-town. We’re nice. Come say hi.