Note: This is in response to “Letter from AIGA’s incoming president” from AIGA National
Firstly, Don’t get me wrong. I have had some great times working and planning events with the AIGA. The Boston crowd is a great one. I was a student member for two years, and then I lapsed my membership when the dues went up. Typical story.
After reading the letter from newly elected AIGA President Debbie Millman, I was both relieved, and well, let-down. The buzz words were there that enticed me to read on (facebook, connection, transparency etc..). But when I got to the end of the letter, I noticed a few things that jarred me. Here are my comments on each section of the new AIGA initiative:
The Connectivity Initiative
This initiative boasts that “a revolution” is happening! Quick! Gather your vintage, socially active posters, and unite!! – Well, when I think of the typical AIGA fashion sometimes that is my first thought. But really, if you are a working designer right now, this is not news to you. You probably found this post by checking your Facebook or Twitter. There is a new communication structure in the works that is to be “progressive, authentic and meaningful”. I am hoping at least that what ever it is, can be proven to be effective for jobs, and useful before people buy in. There is no more “trust me” source any more in this Twitter environment we live in.
The Inclusivity Initiative
You can imagine our understanding of Debbie’s point about multi-disciplined designers feeling out of sorts with the AIGA. For a while there, we here at Dirk+Weiss felt that way. But however, only recently, have our view points changed about this topic. I feel, at least in the Boston chapter, that the need to embrace all viewpoints of design has come from a dwindling membership and the need to be unique in a print-less environment. It is great to see that AIGA National has started its 21st century emergence (even if it is nine years later), but I get the feeling that its still, just too slow of a process, and there is a lot of catching up to do (and fast).
Also, I have had a long standing gripe with AIGA’s perspective of students or recent graduates. Students are commonly overlooked by AIGA as real designers. But in reality, students are the future of this profession. They will be in the next wave of industry trends. Even in Deb’s letter, there is a feeling of catering to the thirty and over crowd. Just because someone has recently graduated, or is about to, does not make them a less valuable member of the design community.
Let’s see some student board members!
In the 20th century method, junior designers became senior designers after having much “experience”. Well, experience never hurt anyone in any field, but the playing field has changed remember. In the 21st century method, that same junior designer has probably been laid off, and is now creating a web based company, and some sort of viral mechanism to promote their venture. Why? How?! It’s simple. There are tools out on the web that allow almost anyone to do this and enable it to be seen by the world.
AIGA needs to become one of those tools. A viral, job-getting mechanism. This means they need to pull the trigger on more situations. I have noticed in my dealings with AIGA, that pulling the trigger is rare sometimes.
Oh yeah, “Break down barriers by 2014″? again, too slow of a process. In today’s time management arena, six months is long term, and technology is king. Predicting and strategizing a whole nicely packaged plan for that long away is overly ambitious, I think, for AIGA, or any company/organization. The real solution here is to get the AIGA vehicle up to the speed of not only its members, but to non-designer folks, you know, your clients. Then, when at that speed, determine how far ahead to look and plan.
Advocate the AIGA Mandate
A new mandate is a great launching pad for new things. But, I had no idea there was an AIGA mandate before I read Deb’s letter.Hmm…
“As a result, we have adopted a bold new course for meeting our mission “to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.”
The official new mandate can be found here.
Still, I hear nothing about how AIGA would like to help get you jobs. Designers understand their ‘craft’ and ‘strategy’. In this economy, AIGA needs to be more than an “Inspirational Resource”, and actually help promote designers to non-designers.
How about this for a new AIGA mission: “The goal of AIGA is to promote the value and effectiveness of designers to the world”.
We here at Dirk+Weiss are active participants with AIGA Boston (although not members). The trend it seems is now from the ground up, rather than the top down. I feel that chapters are becoming much more independent, and almost competitive, with each other. A great, and healthy point. We feel that progression is happening, and love seeing it happen. Even if it means pushing all the right (or wrong) buttons.
Overall, all comments aside, we would like to say good luck in your new endevaur, we’re rooting for you AIGA.