Although I was a student member of AIGA while going to school in Champaign for my undergrad I was more concerned with drinking beer and college sports than attending any events put on by the AIGA … that and I did not have a car to get me almost 150 miles north for a weekend.
Now that my excuse is out of the way, I can firmly say that I appreciated the atmosphere and speakers with the perspective that I have now. Being able to see students that have yet to sell their soul to corporate America was quite refreshing to me. It put a smile on my face and for that afternoon I became that wide-eyed designer ready for what the world was going to challenge me with.
The conference was help in Dekalb, Illinois on the campus of Northern Illinois University on a Saturday in November. The conference was run very well and on time, both things that actually mean a lot to me and my overall experience. Signing up for a workshop during registration could have been more clear, but that could have honestly been my fault. All things aside, I got what I came for and that was the excellent speakers. I had the pleasure of hearing Kevin McConkey from Grip Design speak, Lance Rutter from Legendre+Rutter, as well as the newest Pentagram partner Eddie Opara. What attracts me to designers that speak well are their ability to relate to other designers at any stage of their career. Wether it is “bat shit crazy” client from hell or the “die by committee” issue that we all will experience, it comforts me to know that I am not alone and that there are people to share these experiences with. Mixed in with these candid anecdotes and your customary portfolio/interview advice (which I could always use) was the real heart of the presentations:
Have a reason for every design decision you made. And be able to convey this in words.
It is this that will separate the designers from the pixel pushers. It is quite a simple thought. Take some time to mull it over.