I have re-upped my membership with graphic design’s flagship organization, AIGA. For those wondering, I called this very scenario months ago, and it played out much as expected.

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.