Recognizing UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) lack of design programs, a group of eight dedicated students came together during the summer of 2020 to found SB Creative Lab, the only active design organization on campus. The organization has taken on a significant role in the creative community by providing various design opportunities and resources — especially for those interested in graphic design, UI/UX design, and illustration.
Celine Liu and Chloe Chow, the new co-directors for the spring quarter, told The Bottom Line that although there are many students who are into design, most of the courses in the art department at UCSB focus on studio art rather than digital art. As the only active design-centered organization on campus, Chow explained that their goal is to “create an inclusive place for all people in all different walks of their design life, whether it’s professional or just for fun.”
SB Creative Lab is glad to provide a design environment for creatives who don’t have the same outlet that other campuses have, but Liu expressed her desire for more creative hubs at UCSB.
“Sometimes I feel a little lonely. It would be great if there were other design organizations — I think we’d love to see it.” She explained that covering all three of their disciplines “can be a lot at times,” and that it would be fun to collaborate with other design organizations on campus.
However, the lack of design communities at UCSB hasn’t kept them from engaging with organizations from other campuses. They recently co-hosted an event with Design at Berkeley to discuss accessibility and inclusion in the design industry, and they are hoping to organize similar events in the future.
Since its launch, SB Creative Lab has hosted more than 25 workshops on creative tools and breaking into design as well as several design challenges, one-on-one mentoring sessions, and social events.
“We love interacting with [the] people who come to our workshops and [join] our Discord,” Liu added enthusiastically. “We get so excited and it’s always great to hear what people have to say about our events.”
Perhaps their largest event this year was hosting a remote three-day designathon from April 9-11, partnering with Adobe XD and a diverse panel of judges with over 60 participants from multiple schools. While it was challenging to host such a large and time-intensive event online, the feedback they received was “generally really positive,” and the team is looking forward to being in person next year.
As for future goals, Chow noted that she hopes to plan more social events to get to know members on a non-professional level. The duo is also thinking about implementing design projects so that students can gain design experience and build their portfolios.
While the shift from remote to possibly in-person or a hybrid format will be one of the greatest challenges for the organization in the upcoming year, Chow and Liu are grateful to be part of a “super collaborative and caring” team. They will continue to ensure that design opportunities and learning experiences are available to students from all backgrounds and are excited for what’s to come.