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(pre) The Power of Design

With AIGA’s National Conference right around the corner I thought it might be interesting to start discussing some of its underlying themes. Just to get warmed up and all. Following are just a few of the topics, ideas, themes and goals surrounding the conference.

(Descriptions in bold are taken as is from the web site, followed by some commentary)

1. Designers will play critical roles in the success of our rebounding economy—both as agents of social change in a complex world and as leading architects of sustainable solutions for a troubled planet. I’m not very comfortable with the term “agent of social change,” but it sounds cool, almost like a super-hero of sorts. In all-black tights. The “troubled planet” sounds too troubled to fix.

2. Designers are incredibly powerful. We have a hand in creating the communications, experiences and artifacts that shape our world and growing influence on decisions affecting the quality of life for millions of people. Not much to comment here, we already knew that.

3. How can designers use words and images to improve understanding across different cultures? I’m hoping to find that out at the conference.

4. How are designers playing a key role in helping business to develop more effective, appropriate and responsible products and services based upon a “triple-bottom-line” concept? The triple-bottom-line concept encourages businesses to measure success in terms of three factors: profits, people and environment. I’d like to learn tangible and realistic ways of measuring the triple-bottom-line concept as opposed to being encouraged. I guess I will find out too at the conference.

5. Discuss how design and designers can play a crucial role in addressing problems that threaten our very survival: loss of biodiversity, pollution, deforestation and global warming to name a few. You’ll hear from a variety of speakers with “sustainable” design firms who will discuss how they are designing differently with sustainability at the heart of their design process. This is the whole part of the conference I’m very wary of, if they start preaching about hugging trees I will be very disappointed. I can join Greenpeace for that and in return get a cool green jacket. Sorry for the cynicism.

There are many more topics I’m sure, these are just the main ones. It doesn’t matter if you are attending or not, these are still questions worth taking a look — any thoughts?

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PUBLISHED ON Oct.15.2003 BY Armin
WITH COMMENTS
Comments
Darrel’s comment is:

This is the whole part of the conference I’m very wary of, if they start preaching about hugging trees I will be very disappointed. I can join Greenpeace for that and in return get a cool green jacket. Sorry for the cynicism.

Don't be sorry, but I think that's perhaps the one tangible item on the egenda in terms of really being able to make an immediate change. We produce a lot of crap. Simple things like working with clients to use tree-free paper, LESS paper, and soy based inks can make a big difference to our planet. I can see that being a logical, identifiable first-step towards their 'save-the-world' platform they seem to be working on.

On Oct.15.2003 at 11:15 AM
brook’s comment is:

the triple bottom line does have some real evidence to back it up. there is an index on the NYSE that contains only companies deemed to follow social and environmentally responsible principles (the two need to go hand in hand). this index consistently outperforms the rest of the nyse.

i wouldn't be wary of the green design. you can assume that the speakers will be successful, as designers or whatever else, and have therefore applied their principles to business. i think that seeing these things applied practically in business situations would probably be more helpful to you, armin.

On Oct.15.2003 at 11:51 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> We produce a lot of crap. Simple things like working with clients to use tree-free paper, LESS paper, and soy based inks can make a big difference to our planet.

We've known that for ages, so my wariness comes from being lectured once again on the same topic. But it's really not that big a concern after all, heck, let's save our planet.

On Oct.15.2003 at 12:14 PM
jesse’s comment is:

I understand where you're coming from with the Greenpeace comment, but I doubt it will be like that. As stated above, you're more likely to see green design concepts applied in practical ways by professionals.

Designing smarter with less waste is a noble pursuit, in my opinion.

On Oct.15.2003 at 12:14 PM
Garrick Van Buren’s comment is:

But what about the cool green jackets?

On Oct.15.2003 at 12:21 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> But what about the cool green jackets?

I'll just get a watch.

On Oct.15.2003 at 12:36 PM
Tan’s comment is:

Designers are responsible for producing waste. I don't deny that, and personally, I'm always looking for ways to produce work that's efficient, and eco-friendly as I can within the budgets.

But when we're talking about waste, let's put things into perspective here.

1. Magazines. There are more magazine titles than ever before. The internet hasn't killed print -- in fact, it has spawned an entire magazine aisle at Barnes & Noble that's dedicated to web, and software, and online gaming, etc. And then there's the design and architecture mags -- beautiful, large, expensive publications filled with white space layouts on premium virgin paper. How many millions upon millions of issues are trashed every month? When you compare that to the amount of wasted materials that a typical design office generates a year -- our waste is pretty insignificant.

2. Client waste. I used to design the annual for The St.Paul Companies -- one of the world's largest insurance corporations. They are the parent company for the hundreds of thousands of independent insurance agents across the world. They printed about 250K copies of their annual, and the total budget, including design was about $700K. It was substantial. But when all was said and done, we guesstimated that cumulatively, $700K was how much the company spent in office supplies -- paper, staples, fax ribbons -- across the world in all of their branches and divisions in less than a month. And they probably easily generated 10 times the amount of paper that we used for the annual every day.

Now consider this. We pitched the Microsoft annual report this year -- didn't get it. But do you know how many they produce? 4.5 million copies. That sounds outrageous, until you realize that it's still small compared to the millions of manuals, user guides, fact sheets, and other paper communications that the company generates for the millions of software boxes it sells.

.....

My point is that it's good for designers to have responsibility in what we produce. But let's not forget the bigger drains on global resources, and overestimate our burden of guilt.

One last tidbit. CFC depletes the ozone. Evil stuff in hairspray, spray paint, many kinds of aerosols. Been limited from the market for good reasons. But did you know that everytime a space shuttle is launched, the propulsion emissions of CFC from that single launch is greater than the entire amount of one full year of CFC emissions in the United States. NASA quietly never mentions that.

On Oct.15.2003 at 02:03 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

the propulsion emissions of CFC from that single launch is greater than the entire amount of one full year of CFC emissions in the United States

That's amazing. Not going to worry too much about spray mounting anymore, that's for sure.

overestimate our burden of guilt.

I think we overestimate our value as well. Agents of social change? Architects of sustainable solutions? Oy. I'm much more comfortable being an agent of design solutions to solve my clients' problems. I guess, after all is said and done, I've got so much to worry about with making the client happy, that I don't have the time to contemplate how this piece fits in to society as a whole. I've no desire to be in history books. I want to create work that gets results for my client. Perhaps my clients just aren't in the right position to enable me to be that agent AIGA so desperately wants me to be. Not every one can be.

On Oct.15.2003 at 02:27 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>But let's not forget the bigger drains on global resources, and overestimate our burden of guilt.

Thank you Tan, much more articulate and accurate than my greenpeace snippets. Just for the record, I care about our planet, it's a cool place to live in, I just don't generally go out of my way to spec all the earth-friendly stuff when I need to get something printed. Maybe I should be specing it, but I'm not too concerned about it. Maybe I should be concerned, but I'm not too worried. Maybe I shou... you get the idea.

On Oct.15.2003 at 02:31 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

I care about our planet, it's a cool place to live in, I just don't generally go out of my way to spec all the earth-friendly stuff when I need to get something printed. Maybe I should be specing it, but I'm not too concerned about it. Maybe I should be concerned, but I'm not too worried. Maybe I shou... you get the idea.

I think that's what the AIGA is saying. You probably should care.

On Oct.15.2003 at 03:00 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

It'd be so cool if admission to the conference was something YOU designed--you couldn't come unless you brought something that you made. They could have given an assignment or some such so that you'd have something to respond to. BE A DESIGNER, don't just talk about it...

And then at the conference, you could make more stuff. Have a quick conversation about something, and then start creating. It could be like an exercise for your id.

That'd be fun. I'd pay money to go to something like that.

The AIGA Conference? Yikes. Nothing wrong with reaching a bit, nothing with being a little lofty sometimes...shoot high, aim high, all that. This however...uh, seems a little aimless. It sounds very insecure, I think it makes designers sound like they don't know what they are, what they're doing, or what they can do.

I'll guarantee you one thing--you won't hear doctors or lawyers talking about what they are and what they can do. They just do it. I doubt architects have entire conferences dedicated to "wondering what we are," they just do it. And from my perspective on the agency side...most agencies don't sit around and get high-minded about where or how they can be creative...they just do it. That's horribly idealized of course (there IS a lot of talking, it just tends to be in short, internal conversations). You can only identify an opportunity in the context in which you're working; that doesn't happen if you ignore that context. So if all you do is talk about design, well, you probably won't do anything substantive in the real world.

On Oct.15.2003 at 05:25 PM
Jlee’s comment is:

...you couldn't come unless you brought something that you made... and then at the conference, you could make more stuff.

But that would be such a waste of materials! You would only be contributing to deforestation and global warming.

To overcome this problem there would have to be a rule that you could only make things out of pop cans, plastic grocery bags, and old newspapers. Then, at the end of the conference, everything could be recycled. :)

On Oct.15.2003 at 05:54 PM
Anthony Baker’s comment is:

Love some of the themes here, but there is a whole tinge of "help us, we've lost our way" -- like there may be some mass designer suicide or something on day two of the conference because of all the depressed people in attendance.

I do think that the whole idea of having people look at what they're designing for -- what they're communicating -- is important. This goes back to the First Things First manifesto. That's inspiring.

The woe is us attitude, however, is not.

As Bradley was kind of pointing to, results matter. Business is very much results driven. So, having conversations about on-the-court tangible results and tangible actions would be very much worthwhile.

On Oct.15.2003 at 06:16 PM
Tan’s comment is:

The issue of eco-friendly designing is extremely complicated. It's not always what you think.

Take the design and engineering of hydrogen fuel cell cars.

It's here. Honda already invented one. Designed it, manufactures it, sells it in California. The thing is amazing from what I've read. It supposedly drives like a normal Civic, takes hydrogen liquid fuel, converts it to power to run an electric motor, which drives the car. And the by-product is carbon dioxide and water. To top it off, the car is entirely made from post-consumer, recycled plastic, metal, fabric, insulation, and rubber. It's Greenpeace on wheels.

But here's the problem -- getting hydrogen liquid fuel. The process to convert the fuel from seawater is an ultra-complicated, industrial process that requires electricity, gas-powered machines, and creates inorganic, by-product, non-recyclable waste. So the cost of making hydrogen fuel is many times more wasteful and harmful to the environment than the process of refining petroleum fossil fuels.

So as a result, Honda's fuel-cell car actually harms the environment every mile it's driven versus a conventional gas-powered car.

Design, manufacturing, consumerism, and global-economics are all inter-related. It's difficult to just isolate the role that design plays, and idealistically hope that good intentions will reap good benefits in the balance of things. That's simply naive. You have to chase the eco-conscienscious train in both directions, to the end of the line.

On Oct.15.2003 at 06:54 PM
Jeff UK’s comment is:

I think we overestimate our value as well. Agents of social change? Architects of sustainable solutions? Oy. I'm much more comfortable being an agent of design solutions to solve my clients' problems. I guess, after all is said and done, I've got so much to worry about with making the client happy, that I don't have the time to contemplate how this piece fits in to society as a whole.

Jonsel, thanks for that!

I sometimes wonder if a lot of designers don't have any sense of identity and self-worth outside of their design work, causing them the ridiculously inflate their value to justify in their own minds the space they take up on the planet.

I love big thinking and ambitious projects, but a lot of times the social change agenda seems to me to be a plea for love and respect.

On Oct.16.2003 at 04:17 AM
Aisling’s comment is:

Wow, thank goodness I found this site, I'm a visual communications student and am at this moment writing a thesis on the social responsibilities of the graphic designer (oh by the way, if anyone would like their opinions included in my thesis either for or against please don't hesitate to mail me! [email protected]) In my own opinion design is a hugely powerful weapon, we are communicators, we communicate to the public, sometimes we communicate for nice people like museums and deserving charities but mostly we spend our time designing stuff that is shameful to our profession . . . we help them to advertise overconsumption, we condone companies who have appalling working conditions for their employees because we help to convince people to buy their new products.

In reference to Bradleys point about doctors not worrying about what they do and not questioning it, of course they don't . . . they're already helping the world by saving people!!!! It's helpful for us to constantly question our profession, would you like to live in a world where everything was just done and nothing was questioned?

There definately needs to be a change, but I think a hugely important part of this is within the graphic design students education, I'd never even thought about the social implications until I began researching an interesting topic for my thesis! I think I've ranted enough!

On Oct.16.2003 at 10:02 AM
surts’s comment is:

Aisling,

Jorge Frascara (an old professor that I had) has written a couple books that you may want to check out.

User-Centered Graphic Design: Mass Communication and Social Change

Design and the Social Sciences

I'm pretty sure you could find some interesting stuff in Visible Language and Design Issues (journals) too.

On Oct.16.2003 at 10:18 AM
jesse’s comment is:

Aisling,

I'd also recommend checking out this recent issue of Metropolis magazine which focuses on design school education.

On Oct.16.2003 at 10:48 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> mostly we spend our time designing stuff that is shameful to our profession.

A bit harsh don't you think?

To use the doctor rhetoric one more time, isn't that what plastic surgery is? I'm not saying getting a boob or a nose job is a good thing if you are a horrible person inside — it will definitely not make you a better one. The thing is we humans (as well as designers) are funny people, we have hope for things, for people, for their business.

If getting a little help on the outside is going to make a person feel better about themselves it makes me hopeful, very hopeful, that they would like to also change on the inside too. Especially now that they are more comfortable with the way they appear on the outside. How many times have you heard somebody after plastic surgery say how much more confidence they have in themselves? Most of them, and that's quite a good start for change to happen.

I forgot now if we are talking about boobs or brands... anyway, as "agents of social change" (don't worry jonsel, I don't like it either) we can choose to help a bit more than just giving some company or product a face-lift. But that's each person's choice.

On Oct.16.2003 at 11:40 AM
Javier’s comment is:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. --Margaret Mead

We won't have a society if we destroy the environment. --Margaret Mead

I do believe we can be agents of social change - not every designer needs to be - but we have particular skills that allow us to impact people powerfully.

As a designer, I have worked with Hospitals and Cancer Centers to launch Capital Campaigns which raise much needed funds for research that leads to cures. Yes, the doctors and researchers are the ones that ultimately save lives, but our work as designers inspires donors to give, a critical piece of the puzzle.

On the oposite side of the spectrum, the Nazis gained popular local support largely because of a comprehensive campaign that included a sophisiticated "corporate identity" and beautifully designed propaganda posters.

Designers can definitely be agents of change.

I'm up for it - any one else out there want to join me or are we all just making things look pretty out there?

On Oct.16.2003 at 12:54 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Aisling--

See, this is the problem I have with so many designers.

Some people actually do shit. They want to be an "agent of social change," so they just fucking do it.

Then we've got loads more who talk and write about it. If you take the amount of time spent on the bullshitting and comiserating, and compare it to the amount of time actually DESIGNING, it's really sad. Seriously, what if lawyers just sat around talking about the good things they could do...there'd be no public defenders. So maybe instead of writing a thesis, you could actually design something.

As for "advertising over-consumption," this is a POV that's so trite, so overdone, so repeated, so simplified. That's not entirely the case. Nobody holds a gun to anyone else's head and says "buy more, motherfucker." Do excessive practices exist? Yes--but can you even identify them? If design & advertising could "force" people to do things, then every advertiser and brand would be a leader, and you wouldn't see 70% of all new products fail. This, however, is not the case. I guess the problem with having free will is that you also have to take responsibility for your actions, successes, failures, and whatever else.

As for museums and charities, I'd ask--what's more worthy, doing the work that the charity/foundation does, or spreading the word? And why are those types of organizations "more worthy" than anything else? At my agency we're working on a big pro-bono project, and we give it as much (if not more, just because of the new business it could win) attention as our paying clients. I've also found that the conversation about this project goes into numerous areas--what can we do with radio? TV? Direct mail? Non-traditional media? I've found, too too many times in the past, that designers make a poster and leave it at that.

But really, what's wrong with commerce? Don't the shoppers of America deserve well-designed, easily-understood packaging for the things they want? And what's so bad about profits? Money does, believe it or not, make the world go 'round, and you either accept that belief, live in the real world, and make a change on that level, or snub it and live in fantasy land. If there's going to be a change in this world, its likely going to come from where the cash is--say what you want about BP, but at least they make an effort at researching alternative energies...and that requires MONEY.

Too much of this conference seems to be in fantasy land--which would be cool if a unicorn bounced by, or better yet a nymph. Somehow I don't think all the booze in the world will make that happen.

On Oct.16.2003 at 01:33 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

But really, what's wrong with commerce?

In and of itself, nothing.

And what's so bad about profits?

In and of itself, nothing.

If there's going to be a change in this world, its likely going to come from where the cash is

In theory, yes. In practice, certainly often, but not always.

This goes back to the triple bottom line conversation.

Profits/commerce/consumption/etc. aren't inherently evil, but can cause all sorts of problems if not properly balanced with issues like human welfare, the environment, etc.

Can a graphic designer help with that? Probably. How much? Who knows? Doesn't hurt to try, though.

On Oct.16.2003 at 02:31 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> So maybe instead of writing a thesis, you could actually design something.

Sorry Bradley, I strongly disagree here. For a student... fuck, anybody for that matter, a thesis is an invaluable learning tool. Not only do you get to learn more about a project that ideally you are passionate about; you learn to distill, organize and present information in a coherent manner. Writing is as important as designing.

Students "design" enough shit as it is, some research and writing is very necessary.

On Oct.16.2003 at 02:53 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

D--

Well said, I agree. Absolutely. There IS nothing wrong with trying--but like Yoda say, "There is no try, only do."

You can either talk about this stuff, or you can take your own course of action.

On Oct.16.2003 at 02:55 PM
Tan’s comment is:

"bouncing nymphs" is exactly what I'm hoping for at the conference.

On Oct.16.2003 at 03:41 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Bradley, as a contributing author on this site you have surely realized by now that talking is not inaction.

Has anyone else noticed the schizoid split evidenced again and again on Speak Up between 1) arguing that design is an important profession, and 2) chafing when designers are called to take their responsibility seriously?

On Oct.16.2003 at 04:00 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

1) arguing that design is an important profession, and 2) chafing when designers are called to take their responsibility seriously?

I guess it depends on your definition of "important profession". I define it as important to our clients in getting them results. I want clients to value my opinions and insights that will hopefully lead to a more successful solution. So in that light, I take my responsiblity very seriously.

Others, however, may define design's importance in terms of cultural and societal value. I don't argue against that. I just don't put as much emphasis on it personally.

On Oct.16.2003 at 04:25 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

Right. By important I guess I meant Important. Not just being conscientious and professional, but being an agent of social change, or using your platform (if you are fortunate enough to have one) for good instead of evil. Or evil instead of good, I suppose; pick your poison.

It seems like many designers take pride in the accomplishments of the profession but maybe don't connect at that level with their work. I certainly feel like that sometimes. I don't feel like designing a great rock show poster is very Important when I'm the one doing it, but if someone dismissed the work of Aesthetic Apparatus as nothing more than window dressing I'd have to get in their face. Then again, what would I say? I certainly wouldn't talk about clients or bottom lines. Nor would I talk about message. See? Schizo.

On Oct.16.2003 at 05:29 PM
jonsel’s comment is:

if someone dismissed the work of Aesthetic Apparatus as nothing more than window dressing I'd have to get in their face.

That's it. Schizo indeed. I see all this great design work lauded as paragons of our profession. But the accolades primarily come from within. How is AA's work any better for society than, say, my designing a print/literature system for a huge industrial corporation? If I do my job right, it saves the corporation money and consolidates their print efforts, thereby cutting down on the amount of brochures they produce. AA promotes a musical performance, which hopefully encourages supporting better music and a richer culture. But these musicians then get popular, acquire some cash, and then use it to buy drugs and pay for the damage they caused at the local Holiday Inn. Or maybe they become as large as Britney, and take their clothes off in a popular magazine while disavowing any sexual nature to their work. My point is there's a dark side (that evil platform) to everything. And there is also a good side. Both examples are deserving of our services.

On Oct.16.2003 at 05:44 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I agree w/ you Rebecca -- there is a weird shift in attitudes when it comes to prooving the value of graphic design.

I'll go on record to say that I definitely believe in the value of design as a profession and a cultural force. I also believe in the ability of designers to pool their resources and efforts to affect real, lasting, impactful change politically, socially, and ecologically. So yes, I like the idea of being an "agent of social change" and all that. I'm not kidding.

BUT. I'm very skeptical of many of our organization's organized efforts to affect social change. I question the motive and intent of designers who talk ecology, but drive SUVs. There are countless design martyrs out there who wear the badge of social righteousness, but have never volunteered their time for charity. And there are numerous theories of how to affect change that are short-sighted, and filled with holes when truly questioned.

The "Hell No" event in NYC is a perfect example of this tendency to celebrate and pat ourselves on the back over nothing.

I'm a designer who eats meat, would drive an SUV, and doesn't pay for PBS. Does that make me a hypocrit, a sideline critic, a schizoid -- or take away my right to question these efforts? No, I don't think so. I would put my money where my mouth is if I thought there was an effort that could affect real change. In the meantime, like Jon said, I try to do it one project at a time, one client at a time.

On Oct.16.2003 at 06:12 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Rebecca--

Okay, talking isn't "inaction," but it's kinda like half-assed action. Dialogue is great...when it leads to something; I love having conversations and I enjoy contributing to this site from time to time. It's fun, in a venting kind of way.

You know, I saw a presentation by one of the partners at Crispin Porter (you know, MINI campaign) last week. He didn't get high-minded at all, no extensive comments on "changing advertising" or "changing business" or being this and being that, because that's not a part of that firm's DNA. What IS part of that firm's ideology though, in fact its ONLY driving factor, is that "We aim to make our clients famous."

That can happen in so many different ways...none of which amount to jack shit unless they actually get produced somewhere along the line. Was there talking internally? Sure, but it was about doing something specific--like putting a MINI on top of a giant SUV, or buying the corner spaces in magazines to demonstrate the cornering ability, or turning it into a discount store style kid's ride. They just fucking did it.

What was refreshing about this dude's presentation was that arrogance and entitlement just simply didn't enter the equation. It didn't have to--the MINI is now famous, BMW had to produce an extra 5,000 just to keep up with demand, and much of that results from the campaign and the thinking behind it. He even admitted that the car probably would have sold itself, but he thinks the campaign prevented it from becoming a fad.

From my vantage point now, it's pretty clear to me that design--like any other form of communication--is a tool to express an idea. It's not an end in itself. See, while some designer's sit around and talk about the importance of First Things First or the need to be socially responsible, other individuals are doing things that really are--like, for instance, that Truth campaign.

Seriously--what's more "socially responsible"? Talking about being that way, or just doing it? And why would one need to have a WHOLE CONFERENCE dedicated to that in order to give them reason, purpose, pride, direction, or identity? You gotta have that yourself.

I have a note that I keep on my wall--"A human being is not a number, color, shape, or adjective." In other words, people aren't statistics and notions and ideas--they're people. It's easy to lose sight of that--I have before, thus the note--but some of this high-minded garbage, no matter how well-meaning it is or claims to be, far too frequently loses sight of the individual. You can't talk about what you do in a different way in order to find moral security; you either have it...or you don't.

On Oct.16.2003 at 06:27 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

As per Aesthetic Apparatus, I'll take that challenge--I like the work a helluva lot, but...doesn't really get me to re-evaluate my take on things, music or anything else. It feels like indie rock, and indie rock has felt the same since Sonic Youth. It's not necessarily the look, it's just the...overall feeling, I guess.

I don't know. I guess I just think that if you feel like you have to prove you are something, or you're compelled in anyway to do as much, then you probably aren't what you'd like to be.

On Oct.16.2003 at 06:56 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> Seriously--what's more "socially responsible"? Talking about being that way, or just doing it? And why would one need to have a WHOLE CONFERENCE dedicated to that in order to give them reason, purpose, pride, direction, or identity? You gotta have that yourself.

I agree, you've got to embody the effort or else it's just talk. But what's wrong with also discussing the issue as a group at a conference? One doen't invalidate the other.

There's lots to be said for the collective will of many versus an individual voice.

If group discussions are all fluff, then as rebecca asked -- what's the value of your participation on SpeakUp?

On Oct.16.2003 at 07:23 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

Tan--

Okay, first off--"prooving"?? I love how a simple typographic error can provide me with hours of entertainment. Some words are better spelled certain ways...

Anyway, yeah. What you say makes perfect sense...I realize that I'm going to a pretty severe extreme, and that I essentially tread on the value of mine or anyone else's contribution to this site.

Bottomline is this: some of the lingo in the AIGA Power of Design conference is so fucking generalized and statospheric that I wanted to retch. But, I went to the last big one and I had a great time...maybe that was because of my ability to take advantage of open bars, but it was enjoyable, if nothing else for being around enthusiastic people.

I guess the value of participating in anything that's strictly dialogue is that it, like great design or advertising, can get you to re-think a previously held position.

Thank heaven for the people who write up the AIGA stuff, I appreciate the passion in it, and boy oh boy does it give me a chance to elevate my own heart rate. Nothin' wrong with that.

On Oct.16.2003 at 07:47 PM
surts’s comment is:

when it comes to social responsibility etc, I have a split personality. Part of me believes in the agent of change and the ability of designers to make a positive impact, however I'm very suspect of the "touring" designer that promotes themselves as a leader that should be followed. I went through a very painful lecture a couple years ago in Banff where I didn't have the guts to walk out because I was sitting in the front. It felt like a bad paper show, though instead of pushing the boundaries of paper, it was a bad rip-off of no logo (a book that I found to be useless in terms of telling me stuff I didn't already know). Academia is the perfect place to explore ideas of design, including the opportunities to change things, but it's a bit much for me not to be cynical of an entire conference selling an ideal that isn't the reality. My suspect feeling is that there will be a lot of chest beating from the speakers on how they're changing the world and pointing out that no one else is following their lead. I will be interested in reading opinions from those that do attend on how they saw things. I'm also wondering if the US economy was doing really well, would anyone really be promoting their ecological tact?

Was anyone aware ICOGRADA's congress in Japan?

On Oct.16.2003 at 09:52 PM
Tan’s comment is:

> Okay, first off--"prooving"??

hahaha...I started typing, got caught by a phone call, went back typing...interrupted by...back typing...quickly hit post button as leaving for a meeting.

my typing becomes atrocious the busier I get... But don't get too smart or else I'll start hunting down your typos :-)

And I hear you Bradley -- I often have the same complaints. But it has more to do with letdowns of specific speakers than the theme or intent of the conference. It also speaks volume of the organizers. I dunno -- I have high hopes for Terry Irwin's efforts this go round. We'll see.

And yes, always good to get passionate and pissed about something you believe in. Nuthing wrong there bro.

.....

>Was anyone aware ICOGRADA's congress in Japan?

I was very tempted to go, but the cost was a big deterrence. Flight is about $2500, then there's the conference fees, and hotels in Nagoya can cost another few thousands. Makes me wish I was a student again, willing to slum it in a sleeping bag at a hostel.

But another good reason is that I know by a good source that ICOGRADA will be holding a design conference next year in Seattle, around August. Details still being worked out with our AIGA chapter. It's not Nagoya's IDC, but it's also infinitely more affordable. Stay tuned.

On Oct.17.2003 at 01:04 AM
Jason A. Tselentis’s comment is:

Tan, I also heard this rumor about IGOGRADA's conference next year. It sounds tasty.

On Oct.20.2003 at 02:52 AM
Tan’s comment is:

yeah Jason, it does sound good.

I attended the ICOGRADA conference at Emily Carr in Vancouver a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it. It was small, but impressive. The speakers were interesting, and the ICOGRADA people were hospitable and nice. I was very impressed with the commitment from their board members. It takes a lot of resources, timewise and financially, to participate at all of the international events throughout the year. Their board members weren't millionaire design firm partners either -- many were sole proprietors and/or educators. Don't know how they manage.

There are a number of us in AIGA who are pushing for AIGA to rejoin ICOGRADA (we were a member in the 70s). Stateside conferences like these should stir more interest and inform more people about this unique design organization.

ICOGRADA itself deserves a thread -- but I'm not knowledgeable enough to accurately inform.

On Oct.20.2003 at 02:35 PM
Armin’s comment is:

ICOGRADA has a strong presence in Mexico City. Not that many people pay attention to it, but it's there. More people know about it than they do AIGA, I was very surprised none of my teachers ever heard of the AIGA... I'm not that surprised now.

On Oct.21.2003 at 03:53 PM
Stu’s comment is:

Howdy from the West.

I did attend the conference in Nagoya as I was invited to be a observer for the XX Icograda General Assmbly. In a sense it was an honor as I was the only person from the US that attended the meeting. And at the same time a dissapointment as I was the only person attending from the US. I also attended the Vancouver conference. Both had their strong and weak points. Which gives me both confidence that these two organizations have a place for me to continue to grow as a designer - as well as imperfections that allow me places to get involved and help out.

There is an AIGA community of interest - Cross-Culture Design - xcd - that anyone can become a part of and offer insight and help. It is relatively new - but feel free to email me and I can point you in the right direction. You can also join Friends of Icograda to show support as well. $100 per year that goes towards Icograda and some of their initiatives.

And of course do get involved - really involved. Writing articles and having discussions is great - but hopefully you are seeking out resources to help make informed decisions about where you want to spend your time and energies to efffect something that you are passionate about.

Here's a quick example - I just got asked to be on a Board of Directors for a children's literacy program to facilitate their re-branding. To me - it's neat as I can be on the decision making side and help with what I know as a designer. For instance the new PDFs have layers that you can turn on and off - now I could send out a PDF newsletter with an Spanish and an English tab. Is it going to save the world - no. But it will save a few trees in printing and continue to effect how I think and design.

Anyway - I'm rambling. Hope some of this helps. Thanks and feel free to email me at [email protected] - or call 303-321-7101.

On Nov.14.2003 at 10:53 AM