Design Ranch 2016

Situated on the Guadalupe River, just west of the tiny town of Hunt, Texas is Camp Waldemar—a girls’ summer camp with 90 years of history under it’s belt. However, this past weekend Camp Waldemar was host to some of the nation’s brightest creative types. Hosted by the AIGA Austin chapter, over 150 attendees were treated to engaging, hands-on workshops taught by various instructors from all over the country. Here are some photos and stories from the Design Ranch!

After a foggy, early morning drive through the Texas Hill Country, the sun finally broke through and we were greeted by clear skies, cooler temperatures and scenic views just west of San Antonio.

Camp Waldemar is brimming details everywhere you look. Both the architecture and grounds itself were nothing short of magical.


Built in 1926, each cluster of bunkhouses are decorated with Adirondack and European influences in mind. We stayed in the Bella Vista bunkhouses, adorned with Spanish tile and hand-painted accents everywhere you look.


The mess hall was a cozy area with impressive interior of what looked to be coral walls.


Each meal was hot and fresh, and there was plenty to go around. Campers indulged in three gourmet meals per day – and dessert to boot!


Once settled in and fed, it was time to take our first workshop: Beer Can Piñata making with Chicago-based illustrator and screen printers Ryan Duggan and Elizabeth Kovach.


Afternoons at the Design Ranch were relaxing and allowed campers to unwind while mingling with others. Some went for a dip in the cool Guadalupe River waters, some took advantage of the wide open spaces to play soccer or throw the Frisbee.


Each evening after chowing down at dinner, campers would have a chance to hang around and chat while partaking in the complimentary drinks under the stars of big Texas sky while listening to live music.

Day two brought us to the Linocut workshop with Austin native Denton Watts. Attendees were instructed to design, carve and print an image. Important lesson learned: keep it simple.


Later in the day was a leather-tooling workshop with Natalie Davis and Kristin Moses—we made keychains from recycled cowboy bootstraps while learning about leather and techniques.



Last workshop of day two was with Lubbock’s own Dirk Fowler, who brought down a big selection of wood type and letterpress cuts. Attendees were allowed free range to his collection to create posters, t-shirts, shop rags—and basically anything else you could fit in his presses.



After a great night sitting around the campfire roasting weenies, telling some tall-tales and having a drink (or two), we rose for breakfast and coffee, then moseyed on to an awesome book binding workshop with Judy Schulz from O-K Paper. Each attendee was able to fully customize their book, choosing the covers, spines, stitching and paper stock.



Our last workshop was with MoMA artist James Victore, who decided we were going to canoe up and take to the river for some deep thoughts on our careers and lives in general, followed by beer and horseshoes.



As the weekend drew to a close, the final night offered two-step lessons and live country music.


Huge thanks goes out to all of the Design Ranch board members, sponsors, volunteers and attendees for a completely unforgettable weekend.