I haven’t posted on here for long time and I while I made a promise to myself to keep this blog updated I have been super busy, a really good busy.
About 6 or 7 months ago, I made a decision to become a more active member of my local AIGA chapter. I have always been a fan of the AIGA ever since I was a junior at Hussian School of Art. One morning I was up at the administration desk heckling everyone’s favorite staff person, Jodi. Jodi is the school administrative assistant, secretary, go to person…frankly, she is the glue that holds that place together. Without her, chaos ensues. Jodi is one of the those rare individuals who floats between several different worlds. She can discuss high level design thinking and execution, she has an eye for good work. She is also a realist and no stranger to the blue collar world of hard work. We have had many conversations about family, work, and dealing with life issues that affect everyone. She doesn’t care who you are and where you come from, just as long as you treat others with respect. In her eyes, no one is better then anyone else. That kind of attitude was instrumental for a lot of students who struggled with finding their own identity at college. She was our school’s mom, and I love her for that.
It was Jodi who introduced me to the AIGA. Every morning I would hang out with Jodi at her desk and we would discuss whatever. One morning she was glued to her monitor, reading all about AIGA Philadelphia. I was lovingly pestering her a bit and she kept telling me to knock it off, so at that moment I had to look at what she was reading.
“See, this is what our students need to be a part of.” She exclaimed.
“What is it? Some seminar?”
“No, it’s a professional organization for graphic designers. It’s all about helping designers in their careers and being a voice for them.”
That got my attention. During my junior year at Hussian, I was already doing some freelance work for some restaurants in University City and I was the go to guy on staff at International House of Philadelphia to create posters and signage for events. I was dead set in college to make my degree and life path a reality. There was no way I was going to go back to Sheetz and continue making subs for truckers at 3 in morning. I fervently researched the AIGA the rest of that day, paid for my membership and attended my first event with AIGA Philadelphia about a month later. It was a networking event at Roxy’s and I remember feeling quite out of my element. I had several things working against me.
• I was not working at an agency or studio in Philadelphia. I was the only student there.
• I wasn’t a Philly native. I was student hailing from Central PA.
• I didn’t go to huge design school. Hussian kind of flew under the radar in the city, despite their own claims that they are very well known.
• Also being 6’8” you stand out quite a bit…at this point in life, I didn’t know how to use that to my advantage.
Even though I was the awkward newb at this event, I remember that this type of organization is needed. After that event, I went back to my apartment and discovered that, to my utter surprise, Central PA had it’s own chapter.
Fast forward to the beginning of 2013, I had been a member of the AIGA Philly, then AIGA Central PA, then just a national member, then back to Central PA. My career had taken off and I had successfully worked in several different environments eventually settling at Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians and starting my own design and development shop. Life was good. College was over-ish, I tasted the fruits of agency work, contractor work, in-house, and the entrepreneurial world. I wrote up a blog post about the annual student portfolio review, which gave me a little bit of notoriety in the community. That was cool, though unexpected. I met my good friend David Brener at this event and we have been nerding out about comics, music, design, and cats on the internet ever since. Both of us decided to become more then just passive members of the chapter. Speaking for myself, I had wanted to become more involved in the past, but I felt I didn’t have enough knowledge, time and wherewithal to become an effective member. After the student portfolio review, I made the decision to jump in with both feet and give it my best effort.
I am happy to report that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
One of my first events that I handled was planning a major keynote presentation by Matt Kelly, one of the partners of ZURB. I will write up a post about this event that will follow this one. Next for me is planning an event to host Good Fucking Design Advice at CoWork155 down in York. My friend David and I are working on some ideas to have strawberryluna come out from Pittsburgh. So as you can see, I’ve been pretty busy.
Professionally, I stand behind the AIGA and its principles. Unlike some other professions, the creative profession is very fractured and people come into from all different walks of life. Our greatest strength is also be our greatest weakness, the diversity of how our industry comes together. What I believe the AIGA does for creative professionals is give a unified voice for our industry. I don’t believe in certification of designers, that opens a door for corruption of power and needless oversight. Personally, I don’t care how you came to be a designer, whether you came into being a professional designer by learning everything on your own and going to college and interning, at the end of the day what makes our industry united is our shared knowledge and acceptance of certain standards and ethos to aspire to. That is what separates professionals from amateurs, it’s the thinking.
I learned a lot being a part of the AIGA. I think it’s a vital part of the profession in the United States. In 2014, the AIGA will celebrate its centennial and I have been closely monitoring its call to members to help form the strategic plan for the next 100 years. Some of my ideas will make it to this blog, and I invite people to email and discuss their ideas with me.
As far as being a part of the the AIGA Central PA chapter, you will probably see me at every event and it won’t be hard to spot me. Just look for the really tall guy with a Batman shirt.