Archive for April, 2010

We shall step back into the shadows and don our cloaks…

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Design Currency: Icograda Design Week In Vancouver is wrapping up today. It has been a stimulating infusion of ideas about the currency of design with all that entails — its meaning, its value and its influence in the world today.

I just read the well-written summary of Design Week in Vancouver, by the ever articulate Isabelle Swiderski:

“…according to Collins, it may be time to embrace mystery once again and tap into the true creativity we possess and have been desperately trying to quell for fear of our disapproving business counterparts.”  Read more….

We subsequently had a discussion in the office this morning about the world of design and the world of business and the seeming antipathy between them. The two would seem to need each other, but business remains highly suspicious of design at worst, and patronizingly indulgent of it at best. The business world continues to speak the name of design pejoratively, seeing designers as the fixer-uppers that swing in after the heavy lifting has been done by the “business thinkers”. It was interesting to note that, Helen Walters’ (editor of innovation and design at Bloomberg/ BusinessWeek) keynote address surrounded this very issue:

I’ve seen firsthand as executives who should know better dismiss design as styling, or as an indulgence that’s somehow unrelated to the bottom line. And I’ve listened to designers who should know better bemoan the fact that another client hasn’t understood them or that once again their genius has been diluted or ignored. Read more

Many communication designers now have some 4-8 years (or more) of university training, often with complementary degrees in psychology, sociology, business and leadership, often far surpassing that of their clients. We have been taught to analyze problems, reframe them and solve them in ways that traditional business training has not been able to master. Hence the creation of places like at Stanford.  We have fought for many years for the coveted “seat at the table” in the corporate world, but for most it has been elusive.

Enter the idea that perhaps we were better off when we intimidated with our “artistic mystery” and could wave our arms in creative fits of pique and demand exorbitant amounts of money as compensation for having to deal with block-headed clients. We might have been considered flaky, but at least we were scary. Personally, I’ve never really been able to pull off that sort of theatre, but perhaps I can learn?

What do you think?

“You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” – Jim Rohn

Friday, April 30th, 2010

World Graphics Day: The Rise of the Black Collar Worker

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

From David Coates, FGDC (Fellow Graphic Designers of Canada) come some timely thoughts during Design Week and the ICOGRADA Conference here in Vancouver.

Today, April 27, is World Graphics Day. Celebrated annually, it marks the anniversary of the founding of Icograda (International Council of Graphic Design Associations) in 1963 and a day to celebrate the profession of graphic design. I often reflect on the state of our industry on this day, and I must admit I’m feeling optimistic. Read on.

Four Years. Go.

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010


I like this. And I told a few people about it. I was told by one person that only government and power can make the change necessary to save our planet. I will disagree. This is not a black and white issue. There is no single “only way”. Yes, government and power-brokers need to make changes. But I do believe in the power of living by example and voting and shopping with your conscience. I have made significant changes this year. They’re not going to end global warming, feed the hungry or eliminate child poverty and prostitution. I grow much of my own food in the summer. I compost and recycle. I got a much smaller car and use transit almost half the time now. We buy less meat. We only buy organic free range eggs and try to buy organic meat whenever we can afford it. I’m not “living off the grid” as my esteemed colleague Robert L. Peters is doing, but I did look at wind turbines today….(OK, maybe that was going a bit too far).

My actions influence the actions of my family and friends. They see what I’m doing. Even if they “think” about it, that makes change begin to happen. When they change, those around THEM will think about it, etc. That’s what Earth Hour is about. It’s a tiny tap on the hull to start moving the ship in the right direction. With enough tiny taps, this ship WILL move. I like Four Years for this reason. It’s consciousness raising, it’s a start.

It’s a tiny tap on the hull to start moving the ship in the right direction. With enough tiny taps, this ship WILL move.

We can grouse all we like about the fact that someone else should be doing something about “it” or we can get off our holier-than-thou asses and begin to make change happen. If we are more conscious as a society and we’re doing our part, we gradually stop buying what the power-brokers are selling, both literally and figuratively. If they don’t do what a more motivated society wants, they will be voted out or put out of business. That serves as motivation for THEM to make change, too.

The end.