I had very mixed feelings when the closing of SpeakUp was announced this week. Throughout the years I had a very pleasant love/hate relationship with that website. I loved what it did for design, I hated what it did to designers. With all the high talk of promoting a dialog and/or discussion of design, my experiences there often boiled down to calling the person who disagreed with you a fuckwad and vice versa, or piling on some poor bastard’s logo design even when, let’s face it, there really is nothing wrong with UPS’s logo these days. They were just ahead of the curve. By the way that fisasco went down (which was the first time I found SpeakUp) you’d think they clubbed a baby seal at Peta convention.
But on the other hand, SpeakUp opened my eyes to a lot of things. Some intentionally — like finally realizing I don’t have to agree with or support everything the AIGA does just because they do it. Or my severe dislike of the word “just” when discussing projects. Or, eventually, the fact that just because you have a strong opinion on design, doesn’t mean you absolutely have to shove it down everyone’s throats. It certainly taught me how to be mindful of the comments I make online to others.
I’ve had a few conversations with Armin, some pleasant and supportive, some less so, but never anywhere near the length of yesterday’s interview. Love it or hate it, no designer can deny that SpeakUp essentially created the online graphic design community — which I would describe as thriving — and that we are all richer for the experience.