Connecticut Creatives | New CADC President Christa Yung
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New CADC President Christa Yung

Since 1975, the Connecticut Art Directors Club has been the leading independent professional organization serving the Connecticut creative community. Christa Yung, art director of UConn Magazine at the University of Connecticut, recently took up the reins as President, and we thought it would be a good time to get her thoughts on her Presidency and the state of the CADC.

What was your first introduction to the CADC? Your first event?

My first event was the 35th Annual Awards show in 2010. I was a junior in college and our wonderful HAS professors (and former CADC Presidents) Mark Snyder and Deb Kline  offered to pay for any student who wanted to submit. I didn’t win anything big, but I did get a couple items in and it was so exciting to go to an event, people watch and attempt to muster up the courage to talk to some Connecticut creatives — many of whom I talk to quite often now!

What made you want to join the Board and eventually become President? 

I joined a couple years out of college after I had settled into my first job. I wanted to meet new people, maybe find some freelance jobs, and Deb Kline gave me that extra little kick in the butt to actually come to a board meeting. I felt a part of something instantly. I honestly don’t think I did much the first year; just sort of tagged along enthusiastically and went to every meeting and every event I could. I think my shy eagerness was visible to a CADC pro like Amber Maddox — the Executive Director — who knew the executive board was going to be changing. I started as Secretary and quickly found my voice. I wanted to help in any and all projects and volunteered a lot of my time to help out. Jason Cheshire had stepped up so graciously as President and when we figured out we lived a few blocks away from each other, we started to carpool to meetings and events. This opened up the floodgates to me talking to (at?) him for 30ish minutes to and from our meeting, about ideas for events, collaborations, you name it.

What do you hope to get out of your role as President, both personally and professionally?

Both professionally and personally I hope I can help share the creativity and talent that is in Connecticut to as many people as possible. Connecticut is small, but it’s full of amazing people. It also undersells itself. I hear far too many people still saying there isn’t much going on here — and I want to smack them, ha. I’m also trying to use all of my personal connections to help get our Club involved with more. Anyone who knows me knows I have at least 2 weeknight events that I go to: whether it’s a pop-up shop, or a local gallery showing, or a meet-up with someone new, I’m always thinking about how we can get our club involved with these people, and get our people seeing what else is out there. We need to showcase these talented people, agencies and organizations, get people involved, out of the house and off of their computers. And not just for our soon-to-be in the workforce students, but for the hard working people who stay in Connecticut because they love it. I hope people feel that there is a network of people they can reach out to or collaborate with, and my goal is to shout this from every roof top I can. We’re redesigning our website and rethinking how we connect with both our members and potential members and I’m excited for a new way of thinking about things.

What would be your “elevator pitch” for the CADC to someone who has never heard of the organization? 

What I like to say is that the Connecticut Art Directors Club is an organization that aims to connect Connecticut creatives. And you do not need to be an Art Director! We host events throughout the year: some that showcase the talented people of Conneticut and some that emphasize education and creativity. We also have a magnificent Annual Awards Show that is in it’s 43rd year. Make sure to submit! Our members are hardworking Connecticut folks looking to meet new people, make meaningful connections and entertain their creative mind.

What have been some of your favorite CADC events in recent years, and what events are in the works and/or things you’d like to see in the coming seasons?

I might be a little biased, but the Aaron Draplin event is up there on my list. It started as a normal drive to a monthly meeting where I bombarded former president Jason Cheshire with all of my million ideas, and one of them was, “wouldn’t it be cool if Draplin came here, maybe I’ll email him” to “holy crap, he emailed me back and we have a call set up tomorrow.” And the rest was history — a.k.a. three months of hard work and an awesome event!

I also love when we have studio crawls and open studios. As a student I had no idea how many studios we had in Connecticut, and was pleasantly surprised when I started going to some CADC studio events after college. I now love sharing that feeling with designers and creatives from all over the state when they explore “new to them” agencies and studios. We’re actually going to be doing a variation on this in the spring called Studio Socials where we’ll be doing 4 open studios with 4 different agencies across the state. So stay tuned!

What we’re dealing with now is the balance between making money as a club to host more events, and what to charge people at these events. It’s a delicate balance and I’m still learning. We have such dedicated board members who do so much to put on an event — from the concept, reaching out to everyone involved, finding and paying for a location, creating graphics, posting emails, getting the word out via so many social media platforms, working out food and drink, helping set up the day or night of, etc. It’s always a lot, but the feeling of pulling it off is so great!

Winning any award feels great, but I think there is less of a competitive feel and more of a recognition feel with a CADC award. When someone’s name is called, you can see the whole room get excited for them. So many people in that room know and support each other, and are genuinely happy for their peers.

The community for creative professionals in the state seems to have gotten wider and more scattered since even just 10 years ago. How do you balance “collaborating” with other organizations, groups and events while “competing” with them for memberships and event attendance?

To be honest, we’re still figuring this out! We’re actually in discussion as a group on how to rethink promoting our events and cross-promoting other creative organizations’ events. I see it as something that our members would want to know about, but we also want and need them to continue coming to our events. As you might imagine, there’s no easy answer. I believe we are a creative community and personally, being part of that community, I want to know about other creative events as well.

We have collaborated with other organizations in the past and will continue to do so moving forward! It all depends on the type of event, and we have been collaborating with AIGA CT and ASMP for the past couple years to host a holiday party that is always fun. It makes me happy to see new creative faces. Seeing everyone together reenforces this idea that there are tons of Connecticut creatives out there who are eager to be a part of something.

Do you feel like the Awards Show is the flagship CADC event? What was your experience/perception of the Show before having helped plan/organize one, and how did it change having gone “behind the scenes.” What do you think makes CADC award winning work different from other competitions?

It is definitely our flagship event. Going as both a student, then as a young professional, and now working on the other side of things, I have had many thoughts about the show over the years. As a student I was just in awe at everything coming together, seeing so many Connecticut creatives all in once place. I obviously was a little bummed I didn’t win anything big, but I like to think it made me try a little harder the following years. As a young professional I tried my best to mingle and soak in as much of the work as possible, and continue to strive for those big chunky awards!

Being on the other side of things is such a wonderful and unique experience. It’s also an insane amount of work, but so so so worth it. My role last year was finding and communicating with judges. We get five judges who have to be from out of state so they aren’t involved with the Connecticut community and ask them to volunteer their time for an intense weekend of judging. Logistics, coordinating, and communication on that front is a lot, let alone the work of collecting, organizing and logging submissions and then actually setting everything up and out for the day of judging. The day of judging is so interesting and fulfilling thought. They really take their role seriously and where things end up is as much a mystery to us as it is for the submitters.

Once awards are finalized, the show presentation is created, the show themed website gets designed and the fun part of deciding on decoration is done – the day-of jitters set in a bit as ticket sales come in and the idea of getting up and speaking in front of lots of people hits.

But what makes it all worth it is the event itself. Seeing everyone mingle, meeting up with old friends or making new ones is so wonderful. I have to remind myself to also participate in the mingling rather than sitting back and taking it all in. I think we continue to get such a great turn out with submissions and attendees because our community is strong. We all want to see good work being done behind the closed doors of so many agencies and individuals within our community. As creatives, we’re a bit nosey, but because we seek inspiration and visual stimulation. This is the place to see that! Having the work out for everyone to see before the awards portion starts means a lot to our community, and winning an an award from the CADC feels like you’re being recognized within that community. Winning any award feels great, but I think there is less of a competitive feel and more of a recognition feel with a CADC award. When someone’s name is called, you can see the whole room get excited for them. Again I think it has a lot to do with our community. So many people in that room know and support each other, and are genuinely happy for their peers.

What would you say to someone thinking of getting involved with the Board?

I would tell them to jump right in! If you have some extra time and an eagerness to get involved, do it as soon as possible. It is so satisfying! The people are wonderful, the events are fun and being a part of something feels pretty damn good. But for real, if you’re interested, email me!