THE Professional Association for Design
I recently attended a leadership retreat for members of the board of directors of the AIGA - the professional association for design. I am on the board of the San Francisco chapter and have been for about four years now and have attended three of these retreats. Let me tell you, there's a lot to be proud of not only in being a member of the AIGA, but also in being a part of the design world, in general.
This retreat (of which there are about 250 attendees of the 56 chapters of the AIGA across the US) was held in San Francisco and was hosted by our chapter this year. Of course, that made it special for us, but what comes out of these weekend retreats keeps building from the previous year and attempts to keep up with the atmosphere and needs of the graphic design world and entire AIGA membership.
Not only is the AIGA rebranding itself as the professional association for design, we are actually attempting to live it.
There are many communities of interest in our community such as Experience Design, Design Education, and Cross-cultural Design and there are AIGA Inititives like Inequality Matters and AIGA Disaster Relief which go deeper into the overall world of design and the actual people involved. As board members, we gather to talk about these things and more and try to move them forward as well as begin new projects to serve our members which we represent.
Believe me, it's not all hug-hug/kiss-kiss and patting ourselves on the back. It's very far from that, in my view. We work very hard over those two-and-a-half days and produce a lot of data, information, and "homework" to take back to our chapters. Of course, there's a lot of fun and bonding time, not to mention a few opportunities to throw a few back, but the overall focus is to continue (the retreat theme this year was "Continuum") what has been started from past retreats and to keep it going.
The AIGA has gained a reputation in recent years as being stodgy and a stuffy, almost "white-men's" club. I don't know how that came about, but that's so not the case. Maybe since the design profession in itself has a reputation of being snooty and high-brow, it sort of naturally trickled through to get pinned on this association. From top to bottom, this organization is so friendly, helpful, and resourceful and all of the members that I come in contact with are great and always willing to assist, I just have to say that this moniker is old and out-of-date.
So, we all left San Francisco, except my board, of course, and took all of our new ideas and tasks back to our respective memberships. In my experience, it doesn't stop there. As leaders and folks passionate about the art and profession of graphic design, seeing these ideas and tasks get carried through is all part of the commitment. If you're reading this and are a member of the AIGA, thank you! If you've never been, or think there's nothing in it for you, please consider or reconsider it. The AIGA has definitely made a difference in my professional and personal life, so I hope it can do the same for you. Get ready for the things to come!