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The Evolution of the Arizona Design Community

Ryan Lowry

By Ryan Lowry

As I reflect on my experience at Phoenix Design Week 2019, I think back to the roots of the event. I began my relationship with PHXDW in 2012, serving as a volunteer coordinator on the AIGA Arizona Board. Looking back, I had not fully comprehended how vital and impactful the event is. This gathering of creative individuals has placed Arizona on a national radar and continues to give life to the design community.

Cutting to present day, I am once again contributing to PHXDW—now as a Creative Director. I’ve spent the last ten months tirelessly working with the teams, partners and members of the design community to spark creativity in Arizona through this event. Working on Phoenix Design Week has been a surreal, humbling experience beyond comparison. Although it won’t give justice to the entire experience of the event, here are five takeaways I took from this year’s event:

  • The speakers are really, really good. Each Phoenix Design Week has offered an incredible array of presentations and speakers, and this year in particular was nothing but the best. The keynote speakers were on point and inspirational, breakout sessions provided useful insights, and emcee Rick Burress was fun and engaging.
  • Don’t be shy. To have the richest and fullest experience during PHXDW, you must actually connect with people. Fortunately, the design community here is extremely open and humble. Talk to your neighbor in line, swap social media handles and learn how to collaborate with your community.


  • Experience as much as possible. Phoenix Design Week is so much more than a conference. It’s an entire week filled with events, ranging from parties to workshops to business sessions — all built to fuel your creativity.
  • Take care of yourself. Self-care was a reoccurring theme addressed by presenters. Making your personal interests a priority continues to be emphasized, helping you become the best version of yourself for your team, clients and family.


  • Give a hug, handshake or nod to anyone working on this event. Phoenix Design Week is made possible by an army of volunteers that dedicate a great amount of time for free.

I wish the best for the team working on PHXDW 2020, which is already well underway nearly a year prior to the event. I would also like to challenge anyone with a creative spark to get involved with your local design community. Phoenix Design Week is an amazing event and makes giving back to local communities, especially the arts, even more rewarding and impactful.