New England area designers can count themselves extremely lucky, as they’ve got a gem of a resource on their hands. Bay State Design Shop was founded by fellow Bay Staters and Dribbblers Ryan Arruda and Erik Weikert in 2017. With a slogan like Fortune Favors the Kind, one can imagine that this is an extremely inclusive, enthusiastic, and supportive community, great for seasoned designers as well as those brand-new to the field.
This is a place for designers to get questions answered as well as to learn through teaching. There’s space for constructive criticism, as well as a general pool of resources such as job opportunities and networking events. With weekly design challenges spanning from anything from Chinese food to National Parks, there’s also ample opportunity for practice and bonding over shared projects.
Live in the Bay State area? Sign up today!
We spoke with Mr. Arruda about BSDS, so learn more about what they’re up to below!
How It All Started
Erik (or Uncle Erik as we affectionately call him in BSDS) and I actually met three years ago at a Dribbble Meetup in Boston. We crossed paths and kept in touch in the intervening time, but the genesis for BSDS really came after an additional Dribbble Meetup we both attended just over a year ago.
We had such a blast connecting with folks from the design community during that shindig that we really wanted to keep the conversations going. When neither of us could find an outlet that facilitated the same sort of spontaneous, genuine dialog, on a whim we started a Slack group to rally designers not only across Massachusetts but throughout New England.
We got the initial word out to our respective circles, and posted a shot up on Dribbble—and of course things started ramping up almost immediately. I’d like to think it’s because of the tone we’ve aimed to set with our space. We really try hard to foster a community that’s free of pretension, and free of the bureaucracy that often accompanies more established design organizations. We wanted to keep our clubhouse down-to-earth and accessible to all, regardless of skill level or particular design discipline.
We kind of think of Bay State Design Shop as a never-ending potluck supper at a friend’s house. Everybody’s gathered, catching up, chewing the fat, having fun, and helping each other out. You’ll see your pals, and be introduced to friends of friends. Everybody’s invited, and everybody’s happy to bring something to the table.
The Snowball Effect
One of the coolest things to happen in BSDS is to see members get really excited about the group. In fact, we’ve seen unsolicited—and super cool—BSDS fanart pop up, which is just wild to us.
We want to give members the leeway to make BSDS into the place they want to be, and some members have taken the initiative to do just that. One of those that has emerged has been our weekly BSDS Thunderdome Challenge. Each week participants are presented a topic and a freely-available typeface, and it’s their job to interpret that as they see fit within a limited timeframe. A few days later everyone shares their compositions. There’s no winners or losers, the goal is for folks to just have some fun making design purely for the joy of it. To learn. To share. To keep each other on our toes.
The fact that this self-organized activity happens within BSDS is a true testament to the fact that without the love and participation of our members, Bay State Design Shop would just be Erik and I hollering out into the digital ether.
Field Trips and Events
It’s true! We’re actually bringing BSDS into the real world as well. We recently had our first official field trip to the incredible Museum of Printing in Haverhill. Not only were we immersed in design and printing history, but we all had the opportunity to cast our names in hot metal type, and get our hands dirty printing on one of the museum’s many working presses.
New England’s a treasure trove of sites and institutions that appeal to a designer’s sensibilities. We’re hoping to make BSDS organized outings a fairly regular component to the group’s efforts.
We’re also putting on our first public event this October. You had better believe we’re thrilled to bring that mellifluous manticore of the Midwest—Mr. Aaron James Draplin—to Boston for a rip-roaring day of logo design workshops and tall tale spinning.
There’s only a handful of tickets still remaining, so go snag one immediately!
We want to make sure we sow kindness into the world with what we do. The world of design can get myopic sometimes—we want to use the collective knowledge and muscle of BSDS to bring some good into the world. We’re not sure what that looks like quite yet; maybe mentorships, teaching, or roll-up-your-sleeves community service projects. But in the future we want to make sure we thoughtfully and deliberately give back to the communities we call home.
How to Join
As of right now, we’re up to 257 brave souls who have agreed to join our madcap clubhouse.
We’re a secret clubhouse, but one that’s open to everybody. If you’re in the New England region, you’re welcome to pull a chair right on up to the table. You can join the BSDS Slack channel by heading on over to BSDS.co and requesting your free invite.
So hold onto your hats, folks—you had BEST BELIEVE™ that the Bay State Design Shop is ready to welcome you to its ranks. So, what do you say? If you’re a New England-area designer, come pull up a chair and sit a spell. The conversation is good, the people are genuine, and the snacks are free.
A grateful shoutout to the eminently talented Fore Design for helping put together our site. Dan & Amy have been generous mentors to BSDS as we’ve built the group up, and we’re indebted to their kindness.