We’re celebrating AIGA Philadelphia’s upcoming anniversary with weekly Member Spotlights this month! This week’s Member Spotlight, Rose DiSanto has been a member of AIGA since 1983 (30+ years)! In addition to being principal of her own design firm, DiSanto Design, Rose is an adjunct professor at Philadelphia University and volunteers as a camp counselor for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. Learn more about Rose below.
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your current job?
I am principal of a design firm, DiSanto Design, founded in 1989. I am a board member and director of the mentorship program for AIGA Philly. I was a full-time visiting professor at Philadelphia University for two years and now teach there as an adjunct part-time. And every summer since 1989, I am a volunteer camp counselor for The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp—an incredible organization that serves seriously ill children and their families. I will proudly show off pictures of my slime fairy costume from this summer’s Camp Week at CHOP if asked.
How long have you been in the field?
Officially, I should say I’ve been in the field since shortly after Jobs, Wozniak and Wayne incorporated Apple Computer. Though when I think about it, I guess I got my start in the late 60s when I designed my first logo. It was for a band that my brothers and I formed with our next door neighbors called the Flower Bunch. (God, I hope my brothers aren’t reading this – they’ll kill me for making that public!)
What important milestones do you credit to getting to where you are now?
My milestones/gifts have been the many amazing teachers and mentors I’ve had the great privilege to know. Each one pushed me and encouraged me and offered me opportunities that I could never have imagined on my own. Ray Nichols, Bill Deering, Martha Carothers and the talented classmates with whom I shared our tiny Recitation Annex studio during my undergraduate years at University of Delaware. Cheryl Heller and the wildly creative designers at Heller Breene in Boston where I honed my craft and learned the business. Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot and Jessica Davis, who were my teachers at Harvard. My dad and mom who encouraged me when I started my own business, even though at one point I only had $100 in my checking account. My family, by marriage and by birth, and my network of friends, many of whom are in AIGA.
It is because of these great people that I am so passionate about our mentorship program. These folks took the time to nurture me, encourage me—even when I was green and didn’t know what I was doing. I am proud to say that the AIGA Philadelphia Mentorship Program launched in fall of 2010 with 20 participants, and last year boasted 65. Each year the program gets better and better—and once again, I am humbled by the people who give their time to learn from and mentor each other.
Why design? What inspires you to do the work you do?
That’s a tough one. I guess I truly do believe that there is great power in good design. Like how a beautifully designed space can just enchant us. Or how a gorgeous object can inspire us. Or how a thoughtful campaign can communicate a cause and move us to get involved. To that end, I think there’s some obligation that we, as designers, all share: to use this superpower that we have in design to do some good for the world. (That sounds kind of high and mighty, but I do think there’s some truth to it!)
How long have you been an AIGA member? Why did you join and how have you benefited from your AIGA membership?
I’ve been a member since I was a senior in college. As a student, my AIGA membership gave me access to events and portfolio reviews, all invaluable experiences for a young designer trying to land her first job. An AIGA membership is also transferable city to city. So when I moved to Boston just a year after graduation, it was a great way to network and meet other creatives in that city. And then when I moved back to Philly many years later, I was able to tap into a built-in network of fellow designers, copywriters, photographers, printers, and artists. Since joining the board, I’ve become even more connected to the community.
What do you enjoy most about the Philadelphia Chapter of AIGA?
The community. I am so inspired by the talented and dedicated people that I continue to meet through this organization. Each year, AIGA Philly launches an incredible number of programs and initiatives—each one designed and run entirely by volunteers. I’ve made great friends here—not to mention many laughs and memories.
Why should someone be a member?
Community. Connection. Education. Support. AIGA is the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design. (Not to mention great discounts for members!)
Some other stuff:
I hold a bachelor’s degree in Visual Communications from University of Delaware and a Masters in the Arts in Education from Harvard University. I have three brothers and one pretty cool husband who can amaze me by identifying quite a few typefaces in public.