Comments on: On AIGA http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/ Thu, 05 Jul 2012 15:03:39 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 By: Doug Fuller http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-2094 Doug Fuller Thu, 05 Jul 2012 14:48:58 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-2094 Addressing the smaller issue here... This is an old problem with competitions like this. Before web design, we were complaining about the cute little designer self-promos that were being judged against complex corporate identities and annual reports. After that, it was my personal pet peeve, the gig poster, stealing all the attention and awards! It's so hard to accurately judge a complex web site in the short amount of time most judges have to do their job. I think the ADCMW is doing a good job by having separate judges for print and web/interactive because you really are judging apples and oranges in these competitions. And I agree with @Mira that these competitions are first and foremost fundraisers. On a side note, I thought Michael Aleo's email exchange with Carin Goldberg was very immature and I loved Carin's "I'm done Michael" final sign-off. Addressing the smaller issue here…

This is an old problem with competitions like this. Before web design, we were complaining about the cute little designer self-promos that were being judged against complex corporate identities and annual reports. After that, it was my personal pet peeve, the gig poster, stealing all the attention and awards!

It’s so hard to accurately judge a complex web site in the short amount of time most judges have to do their job. I think the ADCMW is doing a good job by having separate judges for print and web/interactive because you really are judging apples and oranges in these competitions.

And I agree with @Mira that these competitions are first and foremost fundraisers.

On a side note, I thought Michael Aleo’s email exchange with Carin Goldberg was very immature and I loved Carin’s “I’m done Michael” final sign-off.

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By: Steve Whetstone http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-2087 Steve Whetstone Thu, 21 Jun 2012 03:46:10 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-2087 I think you make a lot of good logical objective sense, but is AIGA and design about logically making sense? The stated justification for choosing the wrapping paper at first glance seems a very personal, subjective and emotional reason. Looking at the history of art and design it seems to me the major forces have been trend based and not logic based or functionality based and specifically not objectively based. I suggest there are trend setters and trend followers in designing art and "good design" is determined by the ability to position ones work to be successful in the context of a trend based emotionally determined judgement system. Understand I am not discussing as you are about what Graphic design should be. I am dissecting to the degree possible what graphic design is and how it operates currently. The Ivory tower analogy is very apt in this system because trends are based on the idea of trend leaders having some special knowledge beyond the reach of others that is not explained, or measured or questioned. If trendy designer X says it's the next big thing, then followers of X use that to gain influence, support their designs, and assert the value of their work. This is the role of AIGA, as you said, to set the role and agenda for the design community. I wonder to what extent AIGA could maintain relevance without it's ivory tower and trend defining power. Your advocacy of a more objective, inclusive, and almost scientific role for AIGA does not speak to the operating values and goals of the institution. The idea that someone who is not at the top and a recognized famous trend leader should be allowed to challenge the wisdom handed down by the judges violates the founding principles and practices of the Art establishment. I think that the art establishment, along with any subjective field, requires that knowledge flows from the top down. There is simply no other tested and proven organizational system for subjective wisdom. The reasons for the proclamations of those at the top are not intended to be accessible to others in a subjective trend based hierarchy. What you want from AIGA is to turn it into a science. I suspect your idea of a perfect AIGA is one where everyone can agree on a value of a piece of work or debate it's various merits and the wisdom of the institution would be the sum of the individual wisdom argued over and debated as equals by it's practitioners. I personally lean quite strongly to the scientific objectively reasoning you advocate, but I do not confuse it with art. Art, as in American Institute of Graphic Arts. I think you make a lot of good logical objective sense, but is AIGA and design about logically making sense? The stated justification for choosing the wrapping paper at first glance seems a very personal, subjective and emotional reason. Looking at the history of art and design it seems to me the major forces have been trend based and not logic based or functionality based and specifically not objectively based. I suggest there are trend setters and trend followers in designing art and “good design” is determined by the ability to position ones work to be successful in the context of a trend based emotionally determined judgement system.

Understand I am not discussing as you are about what Graphic design should be. I am dissecting to the degree possible what graphic design is and how it operates currently. The Ivory tower analogy is very apt in this system because trends are based on the idea of trend leaders having some special knowledge beyond the reach of others that is not explained, or measured or questioned. If trendy designer X says it’s the next big thing, then followers of X use that to gain influence, support their designs, and assert the value of their work. This is the role of AIGA, as you said, to set the role and agenda for the design community.

I wonder to what extent AIGA could maintain relevance without it’s ivory tower and trend defining power. Your advocacy of a more objective, inclusive, and almost scientific role for AIGA does not speak to the operating values and goals of the institution. The idea that someone who is not at the top and a recognized famous trend leader should be allowed to challenge the wisdom handed down by the judges violates the founding principles and practices of the Art establishment.

I think that the art establishment, along with any subjective field, requires that knowledge flows from the top down. There is simply no other tested and proven organizational system for subjective wisdom. The reasons for the proclamations of those at the top are not intended to be accessible to others in a subjective trend based hierarchy. What you want from AIGA is to turn it into a science. I suspect your idea of a perfect AIGA is one where everyone can agree on a value of a piece of work or debate it’s various merits and the wisdom of the institution would be the sum of the individual wisdom argued over and debated as equals by it’s practitioners. I personally lean quite strongly to the scientific objectively reasoning you advocate, but I do not confuse it with art. Art, as in American Institute of Graphic Arts.

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By: Melissa Delzio http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-2063 Melissa Delzio Wed, 25 Apr 2012 05:36:07 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-2063 Hello, as an AIGA Board member from Portland, I would like to add two comments. One is that AIGA as an organization has broadened its scope beyond the traditional realm of graphic design to encompass all disciplines from interactive to type to product. This change, however, has to filter down to all chapters all run by separate volunteers. So it is mostly in chapters hands to create content and programming locally that is relevant to a broader scope. I would suggest for anyone who finds themselves ever saying..."I think AIGA should be doing this..." to get involved themselves to make their visions of AIGA a reality for their community. AIGA is rooted in deep history, but it is ever-evolving and dynamic depending on the commitment of its local leaders. I am sorry to hear that a member from DC's chapter cause such a stir with the off-putting commentary. But as already mentioned, one volunteer shouldn't represent the thousands who are doing great work in their local communities to create inspiring and educational experiences. Thanks for your thoughts, I hope you can donate some time to your local chapter and help promote leadership in AIGA to make all chapters stronger. Hello, as an AIGA Board member from Portland, I would like to add two comments. One is that AIGA as an organization has broadened its scope beyond the traditional realm of graphic design to encompass all disciplines from interactive to type to product. This change, however, has to filter down to all chapters all run by separate volunteers. So it is mostly in chapters hands to create content and programming locally that is relevant to a broader scope. I would suggest for anyone who finds themselves ever saying…”I think AIGA should be doing this…” to get involved themselves to make their visions of AIGA a reality for their community.

AIGA is rooted in deep history, but it is ever-evolving and dynamic depending on the commitment of its local leaders.

I am sorry to hear that a member from DC’s chapter cause such a stir with the off-putting commentary. But as already mentioned, one volunteer shouldn’t represent the thousands who are doing great work in their local communities to create inspiring and educational experiences.

Thanks for your thoughts, I hope you can donate some time to your local chapter and help promote leadership in AIGA to make all chapters stronger.

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By: Leanne http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-2061 Leanne Mon, 16 Apr 2012 16:11:04 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-2061 "There is no place for negative elitist bullshit in the future of design." I appreciate the honesty here. I am an AIGA member-- this is my 2nd year, though sometimes I don't know why. Probably because I am primarily web-based and want to stay that way, but everything I see valued on AIGA is print or product design. Anyhow, it helps hearing people with solid experience saying they don't need AIGA to do what they do and echo my unease about not "fitting in." I joined because I wanted 1) to be a part of an association that would fuel the inspire/aspire fire and 2) to find out about jobs and enter contests. I entered one contest for New England design (BoNE show) in the recent students division. My entry was a very interactive/experimental/augmented reality/art piece more so than a work of solid "design," so it's no wonder it didn't win, but that's not the issue I had. You point out offering incentives for contest entry, and truly I was hoping, more than anything, for a bit of feedback, which I did not receive. After I paid the entry fee and did all the follow through to get it entered, I did not receive any updates from AIGA to contestants. It was just a "keep checking the website" type of thing. If AIGA has a goal is to help foster emerging designers (including us digital designers!), that would be the best possible incentive they could offer. Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post. :) “There is no place for negative elitist bullshit in the future of design.”

I appreciate the honesty here. I am an AIGA member– this is my 2nd year, though sometimes I don’t know why. Probably because I am primarily web-based and want to stay that way, but everything I see valued on AIGA is print or product design. Anyhow, it helps hearing people with solid experience saying they don’t need AIGA to do what they do and echo my unease about not “fitting in.”

I joined because I wanted 1) to be a part of an association that would fuel the inspire/aspire fire and 2) to find out about jobs and enter contests. I entered one contest for New England design (BoNE show) in the recent students division. My entry was a very interactive/experimental/augmented reality/art piece more so than a work of solid “design,” so it’s no wonder it didn’t win, but that’s not the issue I had. You point out offering incentives for contest entry, and truly I was hoping, more than anything, for a bit of feedback, which I did not receive. After I paid the entry fee and did all the follow through to get it entered, I did not receive any updates from AIGA to contestants. It was just a “keep checking the website” type of thing. If AIGA has a goal is to help foster emerging designers (including us digital designers!), that would be the best possible incentive they could offer.

Thanks for a great, thought-provoking post. :)

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By: Samantha http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-1746 Samantha Mon, 09 Apr 2012 16:45:07 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-1746 @Carly Thank you so much for writing this. You make a lot of great points and I agree with you, wouldn't it be nice if there was a competition for "budget" work? Mira points out some changes to one of AIGA's competitions that supports many of the things you point out. @Mira Thanks for contributing your perspective. I appreciate and respect your point of view and the work that local chapters have been doing to expand the old definitions of design. I also really appreciate you posting about the "Justified" competition, I am excited to see changes being made in AIGA competitions. I want to point out that while I refer to the judge's comments as a specific incident I am not saying they represent AIGADC. They represent the elitist attitudes that make a lot of web designers uncomfortable with getting involved in AIGA. I do however think the ratio of print work to web work featured in the competition is a representation of AIGADC and that the team of hard working volunteers you work with have the power to make great strides in changing that. I realize it takes a lot of time and effort and am not discounting the fact that you guys have made a lot of strides recently, the website itself is a great representation of the web work that comes out of DC. @Steve I have no way to know what percent of designers are print versus web but I can look at job boards to get a sense of the demand. CNN Money also just wrote a<a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/05/technology/startups/designers/index.htm?iid=HP_LN" rel="nofollow">n article about the demand for designers in Silicon Valley</a>, which is not DC… but a region that National AIGA represents. @Carly
Thank you so much for writing this. You make a lot of great points and I agree with you, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a competition for “budget” work? Mira points out some changes to one of AIGA’s competitions that supports many of the things you point out.

@Mira
Thanks for contributing your perspective. I appreciate and respect your point of view and the work that local chapters have been doing to expand the old definitions of design. I also really appreciate you posting about the “Justified” competition, I am excited to see changes being made in AIGA competitions.

I want to point out that while I refer to the judge’s comments as a specific incident I am not saying they represent AIGADC. They represent the elitist attitudes that make a lot of web designers uncomfortable with getting involved in AIGA. I do however think the ratio of print work to web work featured in the competition is a representation of AIGADC and that the team of hard working volunteers you work with have the power to make great strides in changing that. I realize it takes a lot of time and effort and am not discounting the fact that you guys have made a lot of strides recently, the website itself is a great representation of the web work that comes out of DC.

@Steve
I have no way to know what percent of designers are print versus web but I can look at job boards to get a sense of the demand. CNN Money also just wrote an article about the demand for designers in Silicon Valley, which is not DC… but a region that National AIGA represents.

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By: steve http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-1743 steve Mon, 09 Apr 2012 16:01:57 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-1743 is any of this a fair conversation without knowing what percent of designers are print vs web? is any of this a fair conversation without knowing what percent of designers are print vs web?

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By: Mira http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-1742 Mira Mon, 09 Apr 2012 15:42:19 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-1742 I think this post is very timely, considering all the brouhaha (sp?) going on with Paula Scher's post on AIGA's Justified competition (http://imprint.printmag.com/design-thinking/aiga-unjustified/?et_mid=548293&rid=47067384). My only quibble with your (and Michael's) post is that I don't think it's fair, or accurate, to assume that Caryn Goldberg, as a judge for one particular competition, represents AIGA and AIGA DC. As a past president of the DC chapter and a national board member (I was a voting member as the president's council chair for one year), I know for a fact that AIGA and the local chapters have been working really hard to expand outside of the *old* definitions of design and the expectations of what it means to be a designer. That of course includes interactive. Because my husband (Hobbs) is a designer at Threespot, I also know that there is a lot that goes into interactive design that an uninformed print designer would have no concept of (or respect for). I think web design can be (and often is) beautiful, but to equate navigation with a foil stamp (for example) would be erroneous. Unfortunately, someone unaware of these distinctions can only judge with faulty set of assumptions. Going back to the case of AIGA 50, though: from my past experience, I can assure you that it has pragmatic rather than existential roots. Competitions for local chapters are, at the very bottom line, fundraisers (I know that it sounds shallow, since as entrants, we want it to be first and foremost about excellent design, but unfortunately, member dues and sponsorships simply don't cover all programming costs). Most people look at the judge roster when determining whether to enter; the higher the judges' profiles, the more entries you tend to get. It is my opinion that Caryn Goldberg's views on the DC design industry are antiquated and just plain rude. However, she represents a kind of designer that, whether we like it or not, does exist out in the world (especially in certain parts of the world). It is uncomfortable to hear, but her opinion is as valid as anyone else's. Though I do not agree with her, I respect her for being up front about it, at the very least. I do think it's imperative that we get judges for future competitions that have a better understanding of web/interactive design, and that one "rogue" judge doesn't skew the results so completely. Incidentally, I found this article on AIGA's site today and found it reassuring, especially because I read it after the Imprint mag article and comments: http://www.aiga.org/a-look-inside-aigas-2011-design-competitions/ I think this post is very timely, considering all the brouhaha (sp?) going on with Paula Scher’s post on AIGA’s Justified competition (http://imprint.printmag.com/design-thinking/aiga-unjustified/?et_mid=548293&rid=47067384).

My only quibble with your (and Michael’s) post is that I don’t think it’s fair, or accurate, to assume that Caryn Goldberg, as a judge for one particular competition, represents AIGA and AIGA DC.

As a past president of the DC chapter and a national board member (I was a voting member as the president’s council chair for one year), I know for a fact that AIGA and the local chapters have been working really hard to expand outside of the *old* definitions of design and the expectations of what it means to be a designer. That of course includes interactive. Because my husband (Hobbs) is a designer at Threespot, I also know that there is a lot that goes into interactive design that an uninformed print designer would have no concept of (or respect for). I think web design can be (and often is) beautiful, but to equate navigation with a foil stamp (for example) would be erroneous. Unfortunately, someone unaware of these distinctions can only judge with faulty set of assumptions.

Going back to the case of AIGA 50, though: from my past experience, I can assure you that it has pragmatic rather than existential roots. Competitions for local chapters are, at the very bottom line, fundraisers (I know that it sounds shallow, since as entrants, we want it to be first and foremost about excellent design, but unfortunately, member dues and sponsorships simply don’t cover all programming costs). Most people look at the judge roster when determining whether to enter; the higher the judges’ profiles, the more entries you tend to get.

It is my opinion that Caryn Goldberg’s views on the DC design industry are antiquated and just plain rude. However, she represents a kind of designer that, whether we like it or not, does exist out in the world (especially in certain parts of the world). It is uncomfortable to hear, but her opinion is as valid as anyone else’s. Though I do not agree with her, I respect her for being up front about it, at the very least.

I do think it’s imperative that we get judges for future competitions that have a better understanding of web/interactive design, and that one “rogue” judge doesn’t skew the results so completely.

Incidentally, I found this article on AIGA’s site today and found it reassuring, especially because I read it after the Imprint mag article and comments:
http://www.aiga.org/a-look-inside-aigas-2011-design-competitions/

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By: CarlyRM http://badassideas.com/on-aiga/comment-page-1/#comment-1741 CarlyRM Mon, 09 Apr 2012 15:34:34 +0000 http://badassideas.com/?p=1969#comment-1741 This is a great post and I know you've put a lot of thought into AIGA and the design industry in general over the years. I went through the same undergrad design program that you did, and I have been able to make a career out of it as well. It was pretty shocking to me to see so many of our peers drop out of the industry so soon after graduation. One problem I think is that design is still taught as an ivory tower type profession. I remember things like newspaper design and direct mail being really looked down on. I've worked in both of those fields and they taught me a ton, especially about real world deadlines, juggling multiple projects, and how to keep something fresh after you've done 10+ iterations of the same mail package. Direct mail is also awesome because someone has to make a schedule, and there are almost always results on the impact of the project, which you can immediately use in your next one for that client. I've stuck to print as my first love, but that doesn't mean it's the only thing I can or will do. I prefer to leave the web design and development to the way more capable specialists I work with. However, most of my "print" projects end up as PDFs that are distributed electronically and never printed. I also have to design artwork for PowerPoints and spot graphics for the web (SharePoint included). So even as a print designer, I need to be able to bring more than one skill to the table. I've been approached about learning video and/or more web skills. We have one guy here that knows web, video, "print," and is also an awesome cartoonist. Obviously someone can't be an expert in everything, but I think to teach undergrads to expect to stick to ONE narrow type of work in the design field is doing them a huge disservice. About twice a year, I get a major "book" project. Our clients don't have the kind of money for fancy effects like embossing, or heat-sensitive ink, or any of the things you see time and time again in design competitions or annuals. This starts to wear on me after a while. Wouldn't it be nice if there were design competitions for "budget" work? I've recently gotten involved with interviewing candidates for our design department. The work that stands out is almost always in the poster category. This is a major pet-peeve of mine, because of course student work, or self promotional posters are going to involve so much more freedom than client work, which is often done on a much tighter timeline, and reviewed by a committee who might not necessarily agree with your artistic vision. I'd much rather see volunteer work for a real client (even if it is a relative!), than work created in a vacuum. That, to me, is the difference between graphic design and fine art. Competitions should have a totally separate category for in-house/promotional work, which to me falls into this same type of category. This is a great post and I know you’ve put a lot of thought into AIGA and the design industry in general over the years.

I went through the same undergrad design program that you did, and I have been able to make a career out of it as well. It was pretty shocking to me to see so many of our peers drop out of the industry so soon after graduation.

One problem I think is that design is still taught as an ivory tower type profession. I remember things like newspaper design and direct mail being really looked down on. I’ve worked in both of those fields and they taught me a ton, especially about real world deadlines, juggling multiple projects, and how to keep something fresh after you’ve done 10+ iterations of the same mail package. Direct mail is also awesome because someone has to make a schedule, and there are almost always results on the impact of the project, which you can immediately use in your next one for that client.

I’ve stuck to print as my first love, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I can or will do. I prefer to leave the web design and development to the way more capable specialists I work with. However, most of my “print” projects end up as PDFs that are distributed electronically and never printed. I also have to design artwork for PowerPoints and spot graphics for the web (SharePoint included). So even as a print designer, I need to be able to bring more than one skill to the table. I’ve been approached about learning video and/or more web skills. We have one guy here that knows web, video, “print,” and is also an awesome cartoonist. Obviously someone can’t be an expert in everything, but I think to teach undergrads to expect to stick to ONE narrow type of work in the design field is doing them a huge disservice.

About twice a year, I get a major “book” project. Our clients don’t have the kind of money for fancy effects like embossing, or heat-sensitive ink, or any of the things you see time and time again in design competitions or annuals. This starts to wear on me after a while. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were design competitions for “budget” work?

I’ve recently gotten involved with interviewing candidates for our design department. The work that stands out is almost always in the poster category. This is a major pet-peeve of mine, because of course student work, or self promotional posters are going to involve so much more freedom than client work, which is often done on a much tighter timeline, and reviewed by a committee who might not necessarily agree with your artistic vision. I’d much rather see volunteer work for a real client (even if it is a relative!), than work created in a vacuum. That, to me, is the difference between graphic design and fine art. Competitions should have a totally separate category for in-house/promotional work, which to me falls into this same type of category.

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