Learn what AIGA San Diego board members are up to: from special projects to creative hobbies, to how they give back and find inspiration in their work life. Follow along on this series to get to know your community leaders.
Behind the Scenes of an Essential Campaign
When Covid-19 shut down the U.S. early this spring, Allan Manzano knew he had to help. He just didn’t know how. Now Manzano, Director of Education for AIGA San Diego, has teamed with his mentor, graphic designer Michael Osborne, to launch the I Am Essential campaign in support of frontline workers.
Backed by a GoFundMe page that has raised more than $2,000 to date, Manzano and Osborne have orchestrated the creation of 200 masks for frontline workers throughout San Diego. Osborne leads the design while Manzano handles the operations.
Manzano found inspiration for the social media campaign in Humans of New York, and he’s documenting the experiences of essential workers in much the same way. Tapping his network to locate essential workers throughout San Diego, he savors the chance to connect with new people. When delivering masks (20 to each location), Manzano snaps the workers’ photos and asks them all the same question. “Why are you essential?”
“I capture their statement and create an Instagram post so that, for a quick second, that person has a voice out there,” Manzano says. “While the campaign started here in San Diego, I’m hopeful that it will go global. We all can play a role in giving back. I’d like to spark that conversation on the front lines and move beyond it.”
While Covid-19 was the catalyst for the social media campaign, George Floyd’s death and the protests that followed only enhanced the message that Manzano hopes to amplify: We all have a voice. And, as the protests have shown, our voices are stronger when raised together.
When delivering masks to hospitals, UPS workers, nursing homes and elsewhere, Manzano, the creative force behind the brand development studio This Is Dynamo, brings his son and daughter along so they can share in the experience. Though they’re just 8 and 2 years old, he wants them to feel the impact that giving back can have from a young age, as he did donating to food banks with his own father.
“I’m hopeful that people all over the world will see this campaign and reflect on what being essential is all about,” Manzano says. “I hope they’ll look at their surroundings and ask how they can make an impact. Let’s create a dialogue and see where it takes us, one individual at a time.” Become part of the conversation.
Board Member Spotlight
Allan Manzano, Director of Education
What is your day job?
I’m an independent creative director, designer and educator. I have a passion for making an impact in our industry and society.
What do you like about AIGA San Diego?
I enjoy the networking aspect of the organization and the ability to partner with others to make advancements in the design industry together. I also see a lot of potential for the future of AIGA and want to be part of its evolution.
As Director of Education, what do you hope to achieve?
My goal is to elevate students’ graphic design talents to the next level of professional practice and inspire them to see the impact design can have on society as a whole.
What do you do for fun?
I enjoy being outdoors, hiking with family and friends and attending live music shows and art exhibits.
What is your biggest passion project?
I have quite a few. One, of course, is the I Am Essential campaign I’m working on with Michael Osborne. To be able to work alongside him is amazing. I’m also working on building a design studio at A Reason To Survive (ARTS). It will be run by students and serve as the city’s local design agency.
Follow the I Am Essential campaign on Instagram and start today.