I’m not super cheery about this development. I have my reasons for rejoining, and the impending conference in Memphis and my presence upon its hallowed stage did play a factor in my decision. Also, I’m looking forward to not being treated like a leper at local AIGA events by a select (and reducing) group of Holier-Than-Thou’s. AIGA and I have a had a tumultuous, rocky, roller-coaster of a relationship during my career, where I one point I could, from a certain point of view, credit the organization for everything I had built for myself; and later, using a similar point of view, credit it for taking much of what I had back. However, were that not the case, we probably wouldn’t even be here today.
So I will be a member of AIGA for the next 12 months. For me to join again in September of 2010, here is a list of things that I would like to see happen.
- Break Even on Projects. By this I mean to say, like a Hollywood movie, that I expect exactly enough work to come to me directly relating to my membership in AIGA, or by result thereof, to both pay for my current membership and the next one. It has been put to me that paying a greater-than-$300 membership fee to AIGA is expected of me simply for existing in this profession, to which I reply “hogwash.” Earn it. Those discounts on Apple and Adobe products are great, but since the little I had saved to purchase those products just went to you, I expect results.
- A Strong, Action-Driven Stance to Destroy Design Contests and Crowdsourcing. Merely skitching behind the beat-up pickup truck that is NOSPEC! (will someone please overhaul that site?) isn’t going to cut it from AIGA anymore. Neither is talk. Action is required on behalf of all designers to protect our craft and business model from idiots, sycophants, and villains. As the number-one crisis we face down out here in the trenches, I expect an organization whose stated goal is the promotion of good design to be out front with sword and shield in hand.
- A Greater Percentage of My Membership Fee Going to the Local Chapter. Out of $320 annual membership fee, my local chapter, according to my receipt, gets less than $80. This puts my local touchpoint in a constant position of playing catch-up and raising funds, which retards their ability to think outside of the box and take risks on new an exciting events and initiatives. Really, they have no initiatives to speak of, because they’re always playing catch-up. I’ve seen the powerpoint on where my membership dues go, thank you, and what I’m saying is I care less about national and global initiatives than I do about what’s happening in my hometown and community.
- This dude gets a job. Come on New York. Step it up already.
- From the Top Down, Focus on Supporting Small to Midsize Design Firms and Independent Designers. There’s an awful lot of AIGA pointed directly to the biggest of the big, branding and design from a world-changing perspective. Budgets of millions. In New York and LA, this is common I gather. For the other 90% of us design, on a daily basis, happens on a smaller scale. Help us. We are hurting now. When an agency of more than 100 people loses five employees in a single month due to declining business, well, that sucks. When a shop of 10-15 loses that many, it may well impede that company’s ability to do business at all, forcing even more layoffs. I have seen it happen. Again, action in this area is preferable.
There’s more, I assure you, such as my desire for the professional events in my Chapter to move outside of the realm of only speakers, shows, and seminars, but there’s already movement in that area. Also, with the Memphis Conference next week, I expect many of these bullet-points to be touched-upon and in-progress (some of them are already happening, I believe) For now I’ll merely accept the I’m-not-a-leper treatment and we’ll work on the rest.
Before we begin, do check out our latest, news-heavy episode of the Reflex Blue Show. I’ve listened to it, it’s a gas.
I have found that, now that Debbie is indeed the President of AIGA, I am experiencing some guilt about not being an active member. There’s not a whole lot to be done about it today, as today’s strip suggests it would take some draconian plans to work the colossal cost of membership into my current professional budget. It would be nice if that number could come down somewhat — maybe chill out on expenditures of supporting design in China for a while — or that (and I’m just throwing this out there) qualified sole-proprietors/independent designers could merit a softer point of entry during the current economic climate.
I won’t hold my breath if you don’t.
I had another strip in my mind, all ready to go today, and then last night I was checking out the differences between AIGA Design Jobs’ portfolios and the straight-up Colorflot set. I was speaking with a friend of mine recently who jumped back into freelance life and as a longtime AIGA supporter was going to use their service rather than Coroflots’s, and I became curious as to the differences. I’ve gotten way into Coroflot lately because of upgrades they made late last year that make it a lot easier to use and give some pretty basic friend/follow functionality. I believe (because no-one I’m following ever seems to make any updates) that when they do, Coroflot will let me know if Steve or Jeff drop some new work up there.
In theory, again due to a shortage of people thinking it is as awesome as I do, this would be a fantastic way to keep up on the work my friends are up to. I pretty much always want to know what my friends are working on, because many of them are better designers than me, and I want to see what I should be doing if I want to stay cool. Rather than hitting up 25 different websites that probably never get updated, if everyone just plugged their new work into their Coroflot page (and dude that part is easy), everyone gets to stay up to date with everyone else.
That’s not to say there isn’t room for improvement. The profile summary and resume text field’s inability to handle even the most basic html styling comes to mind. But it’s when I looked over the port to AIGA Design Jobs — formerly my mecca of online portfolios — that I saw something that really needs some fixing. The AIGA set is basically a stripped-down version of the full Coroflot feature set, meaning that when paying for your AIGA membership you actually receive less functionality. Also, it bares stating that Coroflot’s site is set up with a prettier and easier-to-use UI design, so when you port it over to AIGA’s CSS styles it just kind of goes all ugly and, in typical aiga.com fashion, becomes harder to use.
As I recall from my days on the AIGA site, there is a button to publish on Coroflot simultaneously, a feature I wholeheartedly recommend. When you do this, I believe the AIGA sticker is added to your profile and that’s what you get for your membership. Hopefully full feature parity is in the works, because many of my friends have, for some reason, chosen not to hit that simultaneous button on their profiles.
I’d be lying if I tried to tell you I do not covet the Winterhouse writing award. I do. Like Boromir, I fear this desire will destroy me, or at least drive me to beat up Elijah Wood, which is something I really wouldn’t want to do.
Every year Design Observer puts out the call for entries and that amazing $10,000 prize taunts me like Mohammed Ali, letting me know that as much writing and commentary as I produce on design on a weekly basis, it is not worth $10,000. This could be a false assumption, because I do believe the first prize went to a girl who obsessively dissected emoticons. And that seems to be it: like most of the over-long and painfully dull (re:non-Bierut & Heller) articles on DO, you have to write obsessively about something nobody cares about. Like coffee-filter packaging or something. I’m sure somewhere right now there’s some obsessive-compulsive design writer putting together a three-part thesis on coffee-filter packaging and that’s probably going to take the 2010 prize.
I was looking through the 70 (if you count the one currently-produced Special) strips I’ve got here and feel pretty good about a few of them and the medium’s ability to comment on design, and then the rule set of the Winterhouse took over and I remembered the part about everything needing to be set in Courier. This, by the way, is basically designers removing the design from their papers, and I get it. It’s supposed to remove any typographic context. Maybe the judges have a hard-on for mono-spaced fonts, I don’t know.
With a relatively low entry fee (only $25), I am still considering entering the strip, if only to piss off the judges. However, I think I will wait for next year, in all seriousness, when my journals of milk-cap sticker designs and their impact on the American consciousness are completed.
Today’s extremely late comic attempts to make up for its lack of punctuality with an abundance of self. Not unlike the topic of conversation, really.
Now that I’m going to be legit soon, we thought it would be a good idea to help spread the word that we’ve actually interviewed some pretty luminous designers over the past few years. Let’s face it: not everyone listens to our podcast, and as such, many are losing out on the incredible pearls of wisdom we fish out of these designers’ brain-mullusks. Er, mind grapes. Where was I? Our interview with Sean Adams, where he explains in detail the founding, the success, and the failures of Adams Morioka, is now available in typography. Internet-typography, sure, but the letterforms themselves should be of comfort to most of you. We plan on dishing out more of these in the coming weeks, so if there’s an old Be A Design Cast or Reflex Blue interview you’d love to read because you never got around to listening to it, now’s the time to let us know.