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SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Designers) Conference Notes

June 24th, 2016 COMMENTS


John Zipay, GM of Exhibits Northwest (Observations)

Last week, I attended SEGD (Society for Experiential Graphic Designers) in Seattle.

The speakers covered topics from Landscapes & Way Finding Signage to Crafting Experiences & Shaping Space with Art. Each topic gave me insights into the creative process. Typically, the artist starts with an idea that evolves into something similar but different during the fulfillment process.

IMG_2076As the creative energies flow, the artist makes changes to get the look they want. More often, it’s the trial and error, the missteps along the way that creates something extraordinary. In other words, their failures contribute to their success. Attending SEGD allowed to take a deeper look into the creative world and understand the importance of creative failure as a stepping stone to creative success.

My brain sees the world as a square grid with capital letters and dollar signs. As a result, I have never been very good at managing designers. SEGD provide me with insights into their world. Going forward, I plan to create an environment that fosters creativity and that allows designers to tap into organic uses of a space, whether exhibits or corporate environments.

While at SEGD, I met with vendors at NEXPO, the conference for directional signage and substrates. Just like in our world, LED’s are the wave of the future in signage and substrates. In the trade show business, large backlit fabric lightboxes grab the most attention on the show floor. This is also true in the world of SEGD. I discovered signage companies backlighting 3-D acrylic letters, plastic-formed logos, and graphics.

Finally, I attended the SEGD Seattle Chapter Networking bash where I talked with local Seattle architects and other creative agencies, including a great conversation with a firm working on the Seattle Waterfront development. I was intrigued by the process of how they incorporate so many creative ideas into functional space planning along the Seattle Waterfront. For example, just imagine the time and spacial studies involved to ensure views of Mt. Rainer and the “Pikes Place” sign are maintained.

Katina Rigall, Design Director (Observations)

What a well-done conference! Several Classic employees attended the SEGD “Experience Seattle” Conference from June 9-11. It was well-attended by top professionals in the Experiential Graphic Design community, well-stocked with expert presenters, and well-staffed with knowledgeable personnel.

IMG_2071The “Experience” conference jumps from city to city each year. Last year it was in Chicago. Next year it will be in Miami. It capitalizes on the intrigue of each host city by pulling together historic and present-day experts who discuss the areas’ architecture and large-scale graphics.

Attendees are encouraged to explore the city. Tours of distinctive landmarks, such as the Space Needle, are part of the conference schedule, and restaurant recommendations are readily provided by all the locals – both presenters and attendees.

What a great way to experience a city! I’m from Portland, just a few hours south of Seattle, but I found myself learning so many things and falling in love with the personality of this place, what locals call the “Seattle Spirit.” How cool to be in the home of innovators like Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, Microsoft, and Boeing (in its 100th year of business), just to name a few. Not to mention the valuable networking and education.

So as an exhibit professional, you may be wondering how much of this applies to what we do? Quite a bit actually.

  • Most of the agenda focuses on the large-scale graphics that are applied to built structures in distinctive and informative ways, a.k.a. Experiential Graphic Design. How valuable are well-appointed graphics on a trade show booth? I’m convinced after designing trade show exhibits for nine years now, that booth structures are close to worthless without strong graphics.
  • IMG_2083Quite a few of the presenters shared their expertise with permanent installations, from museum exhibit design to exterior applications of digital and 3D signage. The crossover Classic has experienced in retail and museum projects has steadily grown over the last five years, not to mention exhibitors looking for booth properties that can withstand the outdoor elements.
  • This conference brought together cutting edge architects, installation artists, museum exhibit designers, UX designers, fashion designers, and retail designers, in addition to experiential graphic designers. From a designer’s perspective, any chance to see how other creatives work and what they are doing is beneficial. By bringing together so many different creative mediums, I discovered new ways of approaching design challenges and new technologies. That aspect reminded me of the Gravity Free Conference by EXHIBITOR Magazine for several years which brought together a plethora of design experts to stimulate the cross-pollination of ideas.  The unique element that SEGD’s “Experience” brings is that the experts are all from one specific locale.

Creativity is fluid and crosses a lot of professionals. There is much to be borrowed from the experts in fields adjacent to the exhibit industry. I hope to see you all at next year’s conference.


Based in Portland, Oregon, Classic Exhibits Inc. designs and manufacturers portable, modular, and custom-hybrid exhibit solutions. Classic Exhibits products are represented by an extensive distributor network in North America and in select International markets. For more information, contact us at 866-652-2100 or


Exhibit Designs that Sell — Every. Single. Time.

October 19th, 2013 5 COMMENTS

Katina Rigall, Designer

Hey all, Katina the Designer here! I have a couple of special topics to share with you.


Classic Exhibits is now on Instagram. Please follow us, classic_exhibits, and you will see snapshots of fun items in our shop, blackmail-worthy pics of Kevin and Mel, and some great design ideas! This will be different than our Facebook page or Pinterest account because I am in charge, and everything will be coming from a designer’s perspective. Should be fun!

Designs that Sell

I am often asked to design custom booths, and the #1 requirement I hear is — “Make a design that will SELL!” OK, usually that is a non-verbal request, but it really is the point of what we are doing here, isn’t it? So I’d like to share with you one tip that is tried and true, that has had a nearly 100% success rate for turning a job prospect into a sale.

Allow the designer to work directly with the end-user and/or decision maker. Please!

Bring us in on that phone call when you are gathering information from your client. Feel free to introduce us as your in-house design staff if that helps. We just crave that chance to hear what a client wants directly from their mouth!  And we will have some probing questions that will enlighten our design process and leave the client thinking, “Wow, these people really understand what I want!”

As designers, we have adapted very well to taking in words, spinning them around in our brain, and pushing them out into 3-dimensional designs to be presented to the clients. The design process is heavily guided by the information we receive, so the quality of the information is key. Even the inflection in the decision-maker’s voice clues me in to what they really value, and what they want to emphasize.

Why not just do the information gathering phone call yourself and type up some handy notes to share with us? That works most of the time, but it’s like that old game “telephone,” the more people between the end-user and the designer, the more room for misinterpretation. What typically happens:  the design will hit the mark for the last person who explained the booth requirements to the designer. Hopefully, it is close to what the end-user wants and only requires minor tweaks, but often that is not the case.

100% Success Rate

Before working at Classic, I was the lead designer at a custom exhibit house, and I had the opportunity to work directly with end-users on Every. Single. Project. It was truly gratifying to create designs that hit every request, the verbal and the non-verbal.  You can hear the excitement in a client’s voice when the design strikes a chord with them — it makes them invested, it makes them attached, it makes them want it, it makes them BUY it.

Since working at Classic, the opportunity to speak directly to the client has been more infrequent. But when I do, the design has resulted in a sale nearly 100% of the time. And without the need to go back and do multiple revisions! What I’m asking is that you allow us the privilege to speak with your clients more frequently, increasing your odds of making that sale and increasing our odds of bringing more work through our shop. This is, after all, why we designers have jobs at Classic!

Sometimes it doesn’t logistically work out for us to be in on that phone call for a variety of reasons. Which we totally get. We just hope that when the opportunity does come up, you will think of us as part of your team. We are here to help you and letting us glean information directly from the end-users will reduce misinterpretations and revisions, and get all of us to that all-important sale more quickly.

Thank you for making our team great. We’ll talk soon!

Katina Rigall