Tag Archives: AIGA

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.

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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

Design Inspirations: Reynold Ruffins

This is a gentleman who is steeped in rich design history. I had always read design books that touted the famous design studio, Push Pin, as being founded by Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast and Ed Sorel. I nearly crapped in my pants finding out that Push Pin had a fourth founder and he was this distinguished black man named Reynold Ruffins. With all the praise that Push Pin and its founders were given, why can’t I find out more on Reynold Ruffins? I haven’t come across much information about Mr. Ruffins but below is what his biography states.

The stylistic invention and fresh quality of Reynold Ruffins’ illustrations and designs have occupied a very special niche in the graphic art world since his graduation in 1951. He was one of the founding members of the famed Push Pin Studio, worked for advertising agencies and then started his own design studio with Sims Taback A’53. Some of his clients have been Young and Rubicam, BBDO, McCann-Erickson, IBM, AT&T, Coca Cola, The New York Times, CBS, Scribner’s, Random House, Time-Life, Fortune, Gourmet and the US Postal Service. Ruffin’s work has won awards from the Art Directors Club of New York, New Jersey, Dayton Ohio and Des Moines Iowa; AIGA; Type Directors Club, Society of Illustrators ­(Silver Medal, Advertising Category); Society of Publication Designers; Mead Library; Printing Industries of NY and The One Show (Advertising Club of NY). His designs and illustrations have been internationally recognized in group show exhibitions at the Louvre, Paris, Milan, Tokyo and at the Society of Illustrators Annual Shows, AIGA shows, Art Directors Club of New York and many corporate shows. He has also designed and illustrated fifteen childrens’ books; work from these books has been shown at the Bologna Childrens’ Book Fair in Italy and was awarded “Best Illustrated” by the New York Times Book Review.

Since 1967, Ruffins has spread his enthusiasm and knowledge of illustration as a teacher at the School of Visual Arts, Parsons School of Design, as a Visiting Adjunct Professor at Syracuse University emeritus. Currently he is a professor at Queens College, CUNY and was Visiting Distinguished Professor (1989-90). Ruffins received The Youth Friends Award from the School Art League, NYC in 1991 for outstanding achievements, integrity, and commitment to excellence in education. The Cooper Union Presidential Citation was presented to Ruffins in 1972 for his work and prominence in his profession and he has participated on a volunteer basis in many activities of the school, attending career nights for junior and senior art students and served on the Alumni Council. In 1997, Ruffins received the Coretta Scott King award for “Running the Road to ABC”.

— PDF release of Reynold Ruffins, 1993 Augustus St. Gaudens Award.