Tag Archives: AIGA

Meet Ya’ In Arkansas!

aiga diversity and inclusion markAbout four weeks ago, I traveled to Bettonville, Arkansas to take part in the AIGA Diversity & Inclusion Task Force meet-up. This was to facilitate the face-to-face meeting of task force committee members with D&I chapter leaders. I am on the national AIGA D&I Task Force, again, and a member of AIGA with NYC being my home chapter. We meet from Friday to Sunday near the end of April to discuss how to bring the understanding of what diversity and inclusion is from the national view to the chapter level. It was an incredibly emotional, thought-provoking and freaking fun time.

Now I’ve been an official member of AIGA since 2004 but unofficially I’ve been messing with them since 1991. Side note: why is it every time I write the 90’s down, logically I know its a long time ago but emotionally it feels like yesterday. Always throws me for a loop. Really stumbled into it when they held the now infamous Why is Design 93% White conference at the HS of Art & Design here in NYC. I was a young designer just a few years out of Pratt and I was intrigued about what was going to happen there as I held the same sentiment myself as a student flipping through pages after pages of design mags and annuals and rarely coming across anyone of color or women. Long story short from then to now, I have been involved in some form of D&I development without realizing it.

The Northwest Arkansas chapter hosted this weekend event and were such great hosts making our time in Arkansas really fun and enterprising. Big ups to AIGA NWA! Our first night, Friday, we took a tour of the Crystal Bridges Museum where we saw their exhibit Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power. This exhibition was a visual and historical treat seeing so many beautiful pieces that spoke about our community during a time of mass societal change. The tour guide encouraged us all to have conversations about the pieces but I don’t think he knew what he had encouraged. Our conversations were intense, probing but lengthy as several times the talks stalled the tour. What these talks did was to show how open this group was to having real conversations which came into full view the next day during our all day Saturday workshop.

The day’s track held your typical planning and strategy sessions but there was this one exercise we did called the Privilege Walk. Since it was a bright sunny day, we did the exercise outside. I’ve seen videos on Facebook and YouTube but to actually participate in one was entirely different. It works only if you are completely willing to be open in front of others. We all agreed to be and it was eye-opening to say the least. This walk was based on privilege, opportunity and experience and took many of us aback. The emotional toll of the walk came when we went back inside to discuss our feelings about the walk as an old segregation sign we passed around. It had a twist to it—it read Colored Only–No Whites Allowed. What transpired over the next hour was raw, cutting, insightful, self-realizing and cathartic. Truths were told that helped others see the world from that person’s eyes and vice versa. It made me realize my own truths that have existed only in my own head but now saying it out loud amongst folks I only met hours ago really had such an illuminating power.

After a much-needed break from the raw emotions expressed, we got back to business on sessions about engaging members, chapters and so on. We wrapped the day with dinner and drinks at one of the Mexican restaurants in the town having forged new friendships before we all headed back to our respective cities the next day.

 

There have been numerous occasions when I wondered about AIGA’s commitment to D&I (in all honesty, there are times I still do) but this weekend gave me strong optimism that this isn’t just good lip service but a real investment. The work many folks have put in over the decades and the stewardship of the current D&I chairperson, Jacinda Walker, have really blossomed into a good model for industries to follow. It lightens my heart to know that students of today and tomorrow will find/see design leaders like themselves easier and more frequently than I did as a young design student and professional. ♦

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Is the age of fifty and over the end of a design career?

Recently, I got a save the date card from Pratt announcing a reunion for my graduating class of 1989. Reality sank in—it’s been 25 years since I graduated college. Holy fuck!

Andrew Bass Through the Years

I remember being that ambitious, bright-eyed design graduate looking to make my way into the design world with such energy and drive. My dream was to be an art director working at a big company, traveling for photo shoots, mingling at company parties, building a network of creative allies and maybe one day run my own studio all while doing something that I loved. Looking at the calendar, I’m reminded its around 20 days away from my 47th birthday. I’ve realized that many of the things I dreamt about as that young graduate have came true. But I also realize that some have yet to see the day of light. There’s still much I want to do and learn as a creative but there is an undercurrent that I am beginning to feel—it’s the age concern.

I AM APPROACHING 50.

In the past decade, I have seen the industry shift to a younger mindset for design leadership in all creative disciplines and discarding experienced creatives (i.e. older) as stagnant, out-of-touch and irrelevant. This weighs on my mind more recently now as I see the pages drop off the calendar. Reading Commarts.com, I came across a link talking about this same idea (click here). Ask yourself, at your place of work how many creatives are employed with you that are over 50? So many places value youth as being the only innovators, the only ones interested in new technologies, the only ones willing to learn or try new directions. That’s so short sighted as we turn into a country that is dismissing a large segment of our population.

At the story link points out, unless you are a studio owner or high-position creative, you don’t see many mid-level creative over a certain age given the same latitude and tools as a younger creative. Thanks to my parents’ genetics, most folks have no clue about my age and guess it at 10 to 12 years younger. I keep up-to-date with the latest trends and tech not because I need to but because I can’t exist without it. I equate it to air—you can’t breathe without it. Now add to the mix, the issue of race and gender. Fuck all you naysayers; this is a stone-cold hard fact of our society. If you are older, white and male, you will have it tough. If you are older and non-white (male or female), it just got unbelievably difficult.

Don’t believe me, can you name at least three designers over 50 who are white? Now, name three who are non-white, male or female and over 50? Bet you it’s easier to name three older white designers without much trouble but hit a wall the other way round. (Look at the gallery and see if you know their names.)

Three white over 50 designersThree non-white over 50 designers

Tony Gable (gable206.com), Crystal McKenzie (cminyc.com) and Archie Boston (archbosgd.com) all happen to run their own shops and have distinguished themselves in the industry although they don’t receive the same recognition as their counterparts above. How often do you hear their names in lectures and publications compared to Milton Glaser, Paula Scher and Kit Hinrichs? Be honest.

So, what are the options if you don’t run your own studio or a high-level creative? Going into academics in one possible avenue. Freelancing might be on the table but poses this question, if one won’t hire you as an older full-time employee why would they hire you as a freelancer? Changing career paths when older might be a consideration but that present a new series of obstacles that might bring you back to the original age problem. Many of us will face this dilemma in the coming years and I hope the tide strengthens for the value of experience when we do cross that road. You would tend to think, creativity has no age limit but sadly, business seems to have an expiration date on age.

Adobe New Creative Is Spotlighting Fresh Creatives

In the morning, I have to do several things before I start my day. First, I must have my coffee. Second, I must have a good breakfast. Third, I must scan my design bookmarks.

It’s that third ritual in which I read about some new designers being spotlighted by Adobe in their campaign for Creative Cloud, New Creative. What intrigued me was the nice diversity of creatives they were showcasing. Blow me away in a very positive way. One such creative is Gavin Campbell. He’s an illustrator and graphic designer based in the UK—London to be specific. He works delves into a lot of lighting work that is just simply amazing.

He along with a few other designers are giving these talks about their work, careers and how Creative Cloud is a part of that. Pretty damn cool as I’ve been eyeing the campaign for a bit and like how they shine the various creative disciplines. Now I wish I could just buy a plane ticket and fly over to the UK, hang out for a few days and catch the presentations. Alas, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. However, Adobe has to be commended for the way they are trying to help all of us creatives bring our ideas to life. Most certainly, they have their faults as any every expanding company does. I myself have had issues with them from programs to price structures that made me smack my head wondering what were they thinking? But you can’t say they are not our greatest supporters. For that, Adobe stands above so many other companies in the creative industry and this series of profiles is another example of them setting the bar.

Thanks Adobe and looking forward to the next innovations you create and support.

Soulight On: Dave McClinton

spotlightlogo_DMSoulFul Design is proud
to present the series
Soulight On: a showcase featuring designers of color across different creative fields. My purpose is to shine light on fellow creatives that we don’t see in the mainstream design trades. My goal is for you to be inspired, be informed, be creative.

Designer and artist Dave McClinton launched his one-man design concern in 2004. Technically, though he had been taking on clients since his school days at Texas State University from a small sign shop to an alternative newspaper for tech start-ups and then out on his own. In the 20 years Dave has been working as a graphic designer, he has never lost his love of the work. “I still get excited about every project during the initial discussions,” he says. Early on, he was taught the 2 of 3 principle—fast, cheap, good… pick any two. “My heart is bigger than my wallet as I often help folks out regardless. It’s very hard to walk away from a creative opportunity,” Dave states.

He currently runs his design business while juggling a designer T-shirt line, Drivn Apparel, an advocacy newspaper, TODO Austin, and his own personal artwork. Late nights are a regular occurrence. After the phone stops ringing, emails calm down and those ‘real quick’ requests are over, the night offers peace to actually design something. Dave’s work has been published in Print‘s Regional Design Annual, Typography and Enclosures, the 4th book in the Master Library series, Shapes and Symbols, the 3rd book in the new Master Library series and Logo Lounge Volume 7.

1. How did you first become interested in graphic design?

As a kid, I was always interested in art. I’d scour over posters, magazines, illustrated books, and in particular, album covers. I didn’t know what the job titles of the people creating them were but I knew I wanted to be a part of it. During my senior year of high school, the first three hours of everyday was a class called ‘commercial art’. This is sort of old school, as the profession had just started being referred to as graphic design. This is when I first thought that I could make a living being creative. Continue reading Soulight On: Dave McClinton

Design Inspirations: Leroy Winbush

Leroy Winbush broke ground in the 1940s as “the award-winning black man” who designed the window displays at the ­American National Bank & Trust in Chicago. Prior to that, only two years out of high school, he joined Goldblatt’s Department Store as designer of displays and eventually became art director—the only black employee in the entire company. His contemporaries read like a who’s who in the creative world: Duke Ellington, Walt Disney and Frank Lloyd Wright. He talks of their collaborations as though they were barbershop chums. Winbush Design still maintains offices in downtown Chicago, complete with numerous awards and photographs highlighting his accomplishments. His recent projects include special graphics projects for NBC, holiday decorations for Chicago O’Hare International, Midway and Miegs airports, a modular traveling exhibit for the Bally Corp. and, of course, exhibits for the DuSable. He passed away in 2007.

In 2008, Leroy Winbush was awarded an AIGA Medal. The medal of AIGA—the most distinguished in the field—is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or other contributions to the field of design and visual communication. The contribution may be in the practice of design, teaching, writing or leadership of the profession. The awards may honor designers posthumously. The first designer of color awarded an AIGA Medal was Georg Olden in 2007 thanks in part to the AIGA Diversity Task Force, which I was the first Chairperson in 2006.

— Complied from Victor Margolin presentation on “African-American Designers: The Chicago Experience Then and Now” at Looking Closer: AIGA Conference on History and Criticism February 2001; TheHistoryMakers.com