AIGA Baltimore Becomes Caretaker for AIGA Blue Ridge Legacy: Flux Student Design Competition

Flux, a student design competition that’s attracted over 900 entries in past years, has a new host, AIGA Baltimore.

Flux celebrates the best creative work produced by undergraduate and graduate students from across the country. Entries are selected by a jury of leading design professionals and showcased in a gallery exhibition as well as online. Flux has been an outlet for student designers of all practices, and despite a change in ownership, the foundation of Flux has ensured that its success will not waver.

The competition was established in 2007 by the former AIGA chapter, Blue Ridge. Board Member Katlynn Almansor led Flux in 2021 and felt the impact of the Blue Ridge leadership before her.

“I believe we were very lucky to be able to maintain that event, and that was in large part because of all the work over the years by past presidents and board members… Flux was built on a solid foundation, and it's stood the test of time and change thus far,” said Almansor.

Kicking off the competition and growing it to a nationwide audience took the dedication and commitment of many AIGA Blue Ridge members. Joe Wagner, served as a long-time advisor and sponsor of Flux. Wagner credits former President Laura Webster and Board Members Cathy Bruce and Jenn Laumann with establishing the competition's solid foundation.

Katlynn Almansor

President Emeritus

Cathy Bruce

President Emeritus

Kevin Bruce

Web Director

Troy Dean

President Emeritus

James Hersick

President Emeritus

Jenn Laumann

Past Treasurer

Matt Laumann

Past Vice President

Joe Wagner

AIGA Baltimore, President Emeritus, AIGA Central PA, President Emeritus, and AIGA Blue Ridge Volunteer / Flux Sponsor

Laurel Webster

President Emeritus

Former Blue Ridge member Kevin Bruce has been the long-time owner of Flux’s online presence. Bruce is a designer that found himself in the world of coding, a skill that AIGA Blue Ridge needed when building a national competition site. In 2010, Bruce was asked to clean up the code and by 2014, he was in charge of maintaining the website, which is now complete with competition details, judge profiles, and an entry portal.

Flux has several admission categories ranging from packaging design to motion graphics and so much more. Students must be enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs to be eligible to enter, and they can participate in multiple categories. Bruce has seen Flux become a great motivator for students each year.

“Having helped run Flux over the years, you learn a few of the professors’ names because they rely on the Flux competition to challenge their students every year,” said Bruce. “That was the real reason why we didn’t want to just let it die.”

Since Flux’s creation, entries have grown from around 600 to 950, according to Bruce. With AIGA Blue Ridge dissolving and an overwhelming desire to grow the competition even more, Almansor says it was a no-brainer to contact their sister chapter in Baltimore.

“My hope is for Flux to not only maintain its quality and longevity, but to exceed it,” said Almansor. “The closure of AIGA Blue Ridge was a hard decision, but passing on Flux to another chapter was not. It was the one thing we wanted to see continue to impact and promote young designers, and we are so happy Baltimore took it over. I believe they might have the resources to not only sustain Flux but make it bigger and better.”

Current AIGA Baltimore President Frances Miller says the Baltimore chapter was excited to take on the challenge and acknowledges the opportunity that Flux provides to the college curriculum.

“We are excited to produce something that touches hundreds of students and educators across the country while putting a spotlight on Baltimore,” said Miller. “We’re off to a great start! [Board Member] Karole Kessler has hit the ground running as this year's Flux leader and already has our reception on the calendar for February, with support from new Flux sponsors: Price Modern, Alpha Graphics, and Mindgrub.”

AIGA Baltimore launched Flux 2022 on September 27th and have their judges ready to review entries when the portal closes on November 16. Judges typically evaluate entries based on the students’ interpretation of the project, level of creativity and originality, and their artistic skills demonstrated, according to former Flux advisor Joe Wagner. Awards in the past have included a best of show for each category and an overall best of show.

All awarded entries will be displayed online and exhibited at a reception at Price Modern in Baltimore. The special reception will recognize participants and take place at Price Modern on February 3rd, 2023. Miller is already looking to the future of Flux beyond next year’s reception.

“Our goal in 2023 is to establish our Education Committee to envision and build the future of Flux,” said Miller. “We'd like to see an impressive online gallery to showcase the work…As a 100% volunteer-run organization, all of these ideas rely on a passionate board of volunteers.”

AIGA Baltimore is currently seeking their next Education Chair to help establish the competition’s future. Professionals can nominate themselves or a colleague on the AIGA Baltimore’s website. 

The dedication of countless volunteers has allowed Flux to impact the lives of 15 graduating classes of designers. Flux has given young artists a place to showcase their work and without it, there are limited, organized events for student designers to get their work in front of the public.

“Emerging designers are doing great work, which often goes unseen past their critique room and portfolio…Plus, when you're new to a field, building confidence can be a huge hurdle,” said Miller. “Of course winning an award helps with confidence, but even submitting is a statement to yourself that your work deserves to be seen.”

While the Baltimore chapter is focused on growing Flux as a student competition, they’ve also considered how Flux can fuel other initiatives, like introducing a contest to professionals.

“We've also discussed the possibility of opening a professional competition, using Flux to fund a scholarship, or partnering with other AIGA chapters,” said Miller. “We'd love to hear feedback from educators and students about what they'd like to see.”

For now, AIGA Baltimore is focused on Flux 2022, which is well underway. This year’s judges are Liese Zahabi, a graphic/interaction designer and Assistant Professor of Design at the University of New Hampshire, Jenny Romei Hoffman, co-owner of Ashton Design and board member for the Baltimore Design School and the Charles Street Development Corporation, and Alberto Rigau, graphic design instructor and co-chair for AIGA’s Design Educators Community.

Learn more about the 2022 judges at the Flux Competition website.

The deadline to submit projects is November 16. To enter the competition visit  Flux Design Competition. Interested in volunteering to help with Flux? Please email
By Abigail Bentz
Published October 26, 2022