After attending a design conference in NYC, I returned to my then-home hoping to spark something for the creative community in my own town, Jackson, Mississippi. While there were good designers, illustrators, programmers in the city, and some pockets of connections through families or social groups, there was nothing specifically built for us. We didn’t have a space to hang out. There was nothing centralized or discoverable for newcomers. A lot of people were isolated from each other.
I approached good friend and talented illustrator / designer Christina Mattison and we began to think about this issue. We realized that we both traveled thousands of miles to attend conferences and get a taste of community; and we didn’t know designers and illustrators who literally lived around the corner.
What emerged was Pixel-Swig, a social & professional gathering for illustrators, designers, & developers. Christina and I collaborated to develop the series name, branding, collateral, and the social events themselves. It was a happy hour series designed to bring creative professionals together in the same room, so we could enjoy beverages, swap stories, and make connections.
We partnered with local bars and restaurants to host the events and quickly began to see a diverse group of creative folks get involved.
A thriving design community means people can build side projects together. It means that startups can begin to develop in our midst. It means you know who your local peers are, and you know who to ask for feedback or critique. It means healthy competition and staying on your toes. It means that the next time somebody needs to hire a developer, they’ll probably think of you, since you just shared drinks and conversation the other night at an industry gathering.
We were proud to have initiated something like Pixel-Swig – a small start on this kind of community in small town Jackson, Mississippi.