Reflections on the 2013 AIGA Annual Conference

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More than 1,800 professionals and students came from all across the country to the Minneapolis Convention Center, one of the largest in their 100-year history. Being surrounded by a lot of talented …

More than 1,800 professionals and students came from all across the country to the Minneapolis Convention Center, one of the largest in their 100-year history. Being surrounded by a lot of talented people reminds me why being a designer is the best job on the planet. These are my reflections on the 3-day conference.

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  • What it isHand, Head, HeartSide entrance to the Walker Art Museum, site of the closing evening festivities
  • Dori Griffin,University of Southern MississippiHave students engage in other media, not just get stuck in Google and the computer. Get out and work with other people, go to the library, and seek the advice of others on the team.
  • Gary Roznac, Columbia CollegeNo Child Left Behind changed the landscape of education for all students. They are not used to seeking problems, just want the answers and are not as inquisitive as the generation before it.
  • Andrea Marks, Oregon State UniversityAs a senior project, Andrea assigned a capstone project to encourage her students to think beyond the tactic and think higher level. They had to answer a question and document their process in a book and Tumblr. The research dictated the project.
  • Pamela Napier & Terry Wada, Herron School of Art & DesignThere are many methods out there to do design process. Ultimately it comes down to facilitation and environment. You need the right leader and the right environment to create the right stimulus for change.
  • Pamela Napier & Terry Wada, Herron School of Art & DesignThere are many methods out there to do design process. Ultimately it comes down to facilitation and environment. You need the right leader and the right environment to create the right stimulus for change.
  • Andre Murnieks, University of Notre DameSometimes it’s not enough to have a wonderful design solution. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile to sell it or display it. Take a simple story and expand upon it to create an interactive project instead.
  • Cassie Hester & Joey Hannaford, University of Western GeorgiaCassie and Joey explained the need for exploration and play in the design process. There are so many misconceptions out there about design and we are stuck to processes to feel the outcome. But their approach is to keep it open ended and self-guided.GIVE EVERYONE THEIR TOY
  • Sherry Saunders, Lamar UniversityCoding shouldn’t be scary. It also needs to be incorporated into graphic design. We all need to be come “technologists and artists” and they are not mutually exclusive. Simple projects revealed the challenge of coding, but it gave her students an appreciation. With tools like Adobe Muse this is getting easier.
  • Erica Chaikin, U of HoustonWe are encouraged to use our hands to make work. So many people are reliant on the computer alone. We also need to think about using multimedia, not just pixel-pushing. Make something by hand, scan it or photograph it, and refine in the computer. Off the screen we are less likely to choose our first design, to explore, and to slow down. Remember: the computer is a tool, not the tool.
  • The Designicorn
  • Sherry Blankenship, Ohio State UniversityThe case for integration within teaching was very prevalent in Sherry’s talk. It’s something we already do at the agency, but is further reinforced by these academics.
  • Dave Fellman, Wearing your Selling Hat with ConfidenceI was going to listen to Dave Baker’s talk on What To Do When You Care More than a Client. In the end this was a good talk to learn about prioritization. In the morning, plan and schedule your day. Things that are a priority need to be called out on your calendar. And realize if you’re about to change something, you might have to violently prioritize. But you are less anxious if you can see your day, and only let things that are super-important detract you.
  • Eric Baker, Eric Baker DesignHead/Heart/Hand“This opening presentation offers a visual and inspirational interpretation of the conference theme.” Eric blew my mind. He doesn’t like blogging, so he sends 25 random images he finds on the internet to people all over the world on Tuesday AM to stimulate thinking. He is the kind of person I imagine is a truly great ECD.
  • Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art CenterWalker Virtual Design Collection: MN EditionAndrew has many challenges related to curating a very exciting museum, but one of the things that struck me is his take on the design world. There’s an old adage: of good, fast, cheap — pick two. He says that, as designers, we should have all three. Good design will allow for all of them to be possible.
  • The world started speeding up around the 1840s. Modern life meant speed. Painters started to compete with photography. This was the first time we saw national brands. Kurt makes the case that in the 21st Century we’re at the same point in our lives, with smartphones. History’s not repeating itself, but it rhymes with itself.
  • Felix Feneon: Novels in three lines
  • Photo of Felix FeneonPhoto of old telegramPhoto of telegramstop.comTelegraph = tweeting (now there’s a website that does that: http://www.telegramstop.com/)
  • Living a Rich Life: Becoming a Better Designer, Paulina ReyesAs a modern worker, one must find balance. But Paulina doesn’t do that and rather merges her personal and professional life.
  • The Art of the Title Design, Danny YountFamous for the intro sequences to “Ironman,” “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and “6 Feet Under”, his work at Digital Kitchen put him on the map. Now he’s doing many other things. These all have very very short deadlines and require you to let go of your design because it’s actually the smallest component to a large movie. His advice to us: “Work on your work.” You have to have a good portfolio. And he’s had 35 jobs – he should know.
  • Stories and the Art of Persuasion, Eve ClaxtonEveryone has a story. By extension every pitch has a story arc it should follow. That’s what they do at StoryCorps. Here’s an example of how she said storytelling can persuade. [ show Mad Men clip ] Eve counted that pitch took a mere 185 words.
  • The breakdown of the scene:Made it personalKept it shortTells the story in a sequenceRich details, but avoid jardon and clichésStay focused One of the things she does with people (she coaches StoryCorps contributors) is to get them to repeat and do classic jokes so people can get a sense of the rhythm and melody. Take the listener on a journey.
  • Nothing is Precious Designing Web Products, Randy HuntImagine running a massive website like Etsy. People relying on your for their income. Being able to find things quickly. It’s a daunting dilemma to say the least. What started as a 3-person company in 2005 has grown to a multinational company making $1.4B and employing 500 people in 9 countries. To make it successful, they rely on these ideas:Use it yourself, or dog foodingRemember it’s about how people feelUse instinct and empathyShort. Iterative. Measureable.
  • To make it successful, they rely on these ideas:Use it yourself, or dog foodingRemember it’s about how people feelUse instinct and empathyShort. Iterative. Measureable.
  • What You Probably Didn’t Learn in Design School…, LeylaAcarogluWe are bombarded by misperceptions in sustainability. For example, which is worse for the environment: Paper or plastic? (It’s a trick question.) But as designers we have a responsibility to spec sustainable materials in ways that can benefit the environment and not always be the cheapest solution.
  • What You Probably Didn’t Learn in Design School…, LeylaAcarogluWe are bombarded by misperceptions in sustainability. For example, which is worse for the environment: Paper or plastic? (It’s a trick question.) But as designers we have a responsibility to spec sustainable materials in ways that can benefit the environment and not always be the cheapest solution.
  • Games & the Four Keys to Fun: Using Emotions to Create Engaging Design, Nicole Lazzaro, XEODesign Four Keys to Fun is something she’s developed with her company and has created a website for it. But it basically comes down toNoveltyChallengeFriendshipMeaning And although we are not game designers, I feel that these four keys can also drive design, especially when considering experiential design.
  • Memorable Imagery & Visualization, Steve Duenes & Matthew EricsonOf all the presenters who inspired me, this one made me want to stop everything I was doing, move to New York and beg my way into the graphics department. One of the resaons: Graphic designers go out in the field. Wow. These cybergeeks (as they were called once) take seemingly boring raw data and turn them into infographics, charts, motion graphics and videos to bring the data to life. And this all happens so very quickly in most cases because news happens so quickly.
  • Visualizing Data by Design, Steve Duenes & Matthew EricsonI won’t belabor the point. But I do have a great saying these guys used in their presentation: “Engage and delight.” Here’s an example of how that would play out. When it comes to infographic design, sketch with data and make 500 of them, then pick the best one. Some guidelines:Don't be fixated. Let the data be the guide.Do more than just a bar chartAnnotate the chart (people like captions)
  • Here’s an example of an iterative process they went through for the Election.http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president/scenarios
  • Visual Narratives Across Platforms and Screens, Julie, Jacky, JeremyI was expecting to hear all about the technical aspects of designing on multiple platforms. What I got out of it was so much richer. The idea of the Creative Journey and how it is not always linear. Working on a project (especially one you’ve not done before) can take many forms and go on a lot of tangents. But, ultimately, if you have a good story and a plan, you will get there. One way or another.
  • Some things I learned:They do a post mortem on all big projects about 3 months after the end of the project.Digital should be a springboard to the real worldInnovation is relative to your audience. You should design just ahead of them so they still understand, but you’re still pushing.
  • You Have No Idea Who We Are, Jennifer & BobbyOCD (Original Champions of Design)These two were very energetic and had one of the best presentations. You can feel their passion. And they look for that same passion in their own clients, or else they won’t work with them.  Big thing I learned from them: “Strategy and design are inseparable.” They don’t have account managers or strategists or production managers. They and their designers do all the work so they are immersed from start to finish. But as they work together, there are clear boundaries and understanding of partners. For example: Jennifer will get fatigued, and Bobby will step in. But it’s also very clear who owns the project.
  • Designing with Humility, Margaret Gould StewartFacebook“Design is in service of others” is what Maragret and therefore how they feel at Facebook about design. She posits that:We create for ourselvesWe create for othersWe create to show we careWe create to improve the lives of others
  • “To me, the computer is just another tool. It’s like a pen. You have to have a pen, and to know penmanship, but neither will write a book for you.”

Transcript

  • 1. 2013 AIGA Annual Conference Head, Hand, Heart
  • 2. 16 sessions 50 speakers
  • 3. HEART: Peer-Reviewed Panel Presentations
  • 4. Engage other media. Dori Griffin University of Southern Mississippi
  • 5. Gary Roznac Columbia College Millennials are not predisposed to seeking problems.
  • 6. We need to spark curious motivation. Andrea Marks Oregon State University
  • 7. Collaborate to make change. Pamela Napier & Terry Wada Herron School of Art & Design
  • 8. Pamela Napier & Terry Wada Herron School of Art & Design
  • 9. Andre Murnieks University of Notre Dame Create movie trailers to sell a project.
  • 10. HAND: Peer-Reviewed Panel Presentations
  • 11. Cassie Hester & Joey Hannaford University of Western Georgia Play is an important part of creative process.
  • 12. The medium is the message. Sherry Saunders Lamar University
  • 13. We learn by being physical. Erica Chaikin University of Houston 13
  • 14. Suzanne Powney Mississippi State University Roselynn Newton Texas State University 15 Letterpress helped with craftsmanship, DIY and history.
  • 15. More diversity among disciplines. Sherry Blankenship 16
  • 16. Non-Educator Part of the Program
  • 17. Plan your work, work your plan. Dave Fellman 18
  • 18. The color of truth is gray. Eric Baker Eric Baker Design 19
  • 19.   …when you make something no one hates, no one loves it. Tibor Kalman
  • 20. Pick two of three, why not all three? Andrew Blauvelt Walker Art Center 21
  • 21. Stay wildly ambitious. Stop thinking you're special. Focus on your career. Nicole Jacek NJ(LA™) 22
  • 22. George Lois 23 Catch their eye. Warm their heart. Cause to act.
  • 23. Adobe Muse Adobe DPS Terry White Adobe's Worldwide Design Evangelist 24
  • 24. History rhymes. Kurt Andersen 25
  • 25. A dockworker of Toulon, Honoré Maffei, who had shot six rounds at his niece, was more than half lynched. 26
  • 26. I found the circus. Paulina Reyes Mother New York 29
  • 27. Work on your work. Danny Yount 30
  • 28. Take the listener on a journey. Eve Claxton StoryCorps 31
  • 29. Made it personal Kept it short Tells the story in a sequence Rich details Stay focused
  • 30. Save the Children effect Darth Vader toothbrush Blood Pressure effect
  • 31. People matter most Randy Hunt Etsy 35
  • 32. “Dog fooding” It’s about how people feel Use instinct and empathy Short. Iterative. Measureable.
  • 33. Jason Fulford & Tamara Shopsin Some of the best feedback we get from one another is negative.
  • 34. 38
  • 35. Leyla Acaroglu Everything we do impacts something else
  • 36. 40
  • 37. Turn curiosity into courage Leyla Acaroglu
  • 38. Parody is a wonderful tool. J.J. Sedelmaier 42
  • 39. Play and creativity go hand in hand. Nicole Lazzaro 43
  • 40. Easy fun = curiosity Hard fun = fiero People fun = amusement Serious fun = excitement
  • 41. Turn complexity into clarity. Steve Duenes & Matthew Erickson 45
  • 42. David Kwong 46 I cannot begin to explain what I experienced.
  • 43. Do what you love. Alissa Walker 47
  • 44. Engage and delight. Steve Duenes & Matthew Erickson 48
  • 45. Julie, Jacky, Jeremy 50 Innovation is relative to your audience.
  • 46. Jennifer Kinon & Bobby Martin Original Champions of Design 52 Strategy and design are inseparable.
  • 47. Design is in service of others. Margaret Gould Stewart Facebook 53
  • 48. 54
  • 49.   To me, the computer is just another tool. It’s like a pen. You have to have a pen, and to know penmanship, but neither will write a book for you. Red Burns 55
  • 50. Be open to change Make it about people, not technology Be humble Be joyful
  • 51. Aaron Draplin Draplin Design Company 57 Say yes maybe a little more than you say no.
  • 52. Do good work for good people. Aaron Draplin Draplin Design Company 58
  • 53. Andrew Blauvelt Walker Art Center
  • 54. Thank you. @dharder dh@dharder.com