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Daniel Cardoza in AIGA’s Command X

The AIGA National Conference holds a live design competition, Command X, allowing seven emerging designers to face off in front of 2,000 professionals and peers. For the second year in a row, another UH Graphic Design alumni has been selected to compete. This year it is Daniel Cardoza, class of 2016, who will step on the main stage as a Command X contestant, competing at the conference in Minneapolis! 
The competition presents a new design challenge each day of the conference—giving contestants 24 hours to come up with a solution—before presenting to a panel of nationally renowned graphic design judges and the collective critical eye of the conference audience. Challenges increase in difficulty, with the last round focusing on an important social issue that even a seasoned designer may find too complex to solve—especially in a short amount of time. While the judges provide immediate feedback, it is the audience who will vote to decide which contestants will move on to compete in the next round, until one is crowned the winner. 
When asked why he decided to apply to be a contestant, Daniel states, “I first experienced Command X at the 2015 AIGA Conference in New Orleans. The conference itself was such an amazing experience, and I was completely enamored with being surrounded by this microcosm of so many brilliant people. I loved everything about it, but just watching Command X stressed me out. I remember thinking that I’d never do something like that to myself. Ha!—my perception has since changed. Last year, my friend and blockmate, Andres Garcia, stepped onto the stage in Las Vegas, and made it all the way to the end of the competition. I remember how much hype, and pride I felt for him. Ultimately, I wanted to experience all that brilliance again, push myself as far as I can, and make a few people proud along the way.”
And how did he feel when he received the acceptance call? “It was a pretty surreal experience filled with many expletives. I was at work when I got a call from a Connecticut number. I knew Command X’s organizer, Bonnie Siegler of 8.5, lived in CT from talking with Andres, so naturally my heart dropped. I watched the phone, the vibration resonating with this huge lump in my throat, and then it stopped. I collected my thoughts and called the number back. Bonnie answered and laid it on me in such a warm and welcoming way; but, most of what I remember leaving my mouth were excited and incoherent expletives. She was happy for me. It felt good, but nerve-wracking, like I had won some battle of self-doubt in a way.”
What has Daniel taken away from the UH Graphic Design program that he can apply on the conference’s main stage? “[The program] has made me who I am today, and I wouldn’t be where I am without the grace and goodness of [professors] Beckham Dossett, Cheryl Beckett, Sibylle Hagmann, Fiona McGettigan, and all of my classmates. Aside from understanding how to approach my work, I feel the most important thing that I’ve learned and honed from block is the ability to articulate my process and decisions when speaking of my work. Since I’ll be on a stage in front of 2,000 people, I’m sure that will come in handy. I also feel that the many all-nighters I pulled during block have prepared me for at least a few more, given this opportunity.”
Besides aiming to win the competition, Daniel hopes to learn anything and everything he can from this experience. “I want to learn more about other’s perception of my own work, how much further I can push the boundaries of self, how to better understand the sensibilities and motivations of others and hopefully walk away with a little more courage and humility, regardless of what happens.”
Good luck, Daniel! You will make us proud! 
If you will be attending the conference this week, stop by the Command X work station to offer words of encouragement as Daniel competes for fame and glory on the national stage! 

Daniel Cardoza served as a student representative for UH GAP from fall of 2014 through the end of his senior year in 2016 and received a scholarship from UH GAP in 2015. He now works at BrandExtract, while pursuing freelancing gigs and self-initiated experimental projects on the side. Daniel channels his passions through many mediums such as design, sound and music, written word, tennis, building projects, and a healthy amount of escapism.

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