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AMA x Design in DC

This week, Nancy Szarkowski, from Design in DC is virtually visiting AMA for a design workshop! Nancy is the Chief Creative Director for Design in DC, which is a DC-based award-winning design agency with over 50 employees and has 5 years of experience in the industry. Nancy has extensive experience working with design within the print and digital space.


Nancy starts the meeting with a presentation about the design elements and principles to prepare the AMA members for the design challenge that will take place later on in the meeting.


The design elements she talks about are balance, contrast, hierarchy, and unity. Nancy included examples of ads from marketing campaigns to connect the design elements to real-life marketing strategies. The design principles Nancy is discussing are color, typography, space, repetition, and variety. When talking about typography, Nancy explained the five basic types of typography, which are Serif, Sans Serif, Slab Serif, Script, and Black letter. She explained what each of them represents, such as how Sans Serif text is viewed as clean and modern and Serif text is seen as trustworthy and vintage.


Nancy speaking to AMA members!

Once the AMA members have learned about the design elements and principles, Nancy teaches the group how to use Canva. Canva is a graphic design platform that has risen in popularity because of its easy-to-use interface and powerful capabilities. Canva is used by AMA and many other organizations to create graphic designs for social media, posters, slideshow presentations, and more.


Nancy shows the group how to add photos, edit text, and various other techniques to create a graphic on Canva. Nancy tells the group that she has used Canva before, but on the day-to-day, she uses different graphics platforms such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and more when she is working on projects for her company, Design in DC. One of the biggest tips from Nancy is to utilize the guide feature on Canva to create a 9x9 grid to implement the principle of rule of thirds. The human eye is naturally drawn to elements in the right or left thirds of an image. The rule of thirds principle can help make your designs pop out and be more pleasing to the eye.


With our knowledge of design elements and principles and how to use Canva, the AMA members were given the design challenge. The challenge was to create an Instagram post to publicize the next AMA meeting. The members were given the event information and broke into groups to create their posts. During this time, Nancy went into breakout rooms with the different groups where she answered questions about design and helped the members create their designs.



One group had a question for Nancy about how to pair different fonts. She gave a helpful explanation about pairing fonts that contrast but are also cohesive. Her example is that if you are using a script font, such as the RayBan font, you want to pair it with a more clean modern font, like the Google font.


With Nancy’s help, the AMA members finished their designs and submitted them. After deliberations from the AMA executive board, the winning design was chosen!


Design challenge winner!

AMA wants to thank Nancy Szarkowski for logging into Zoom to speak with the group today! Her knowledge is incredible and we greatly appreciate her spending time with us to share the basics of design. Visit her company Design in DC for all of your design needs and check out their Careers page if you are looking for a remote job working in design!


- Maeve Smarick

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