Thursday, October 28, 2010
Et tu, HOWdesign.com?
Print, HOW, AIGA, I thought you were behind us? The last few years in the design industry have been disheartening, to say the least - particularly for print designers. Print designers have suffered the worst of the downsizing - many without hope of finding a job in their beloved trade again. The last thing we needed was for the industry awards and competitions to be jumping on this band wagon.
The gorgeous award annuals of only a few years ago meant a lot to me. When I graduated college, Print Magazine was still producing those beautiful annuals that were about five regular magazines thick. It was one of those annuals that helped me decide what to pursue in my career. The work was absolutely brilliant, inspiring, concept-driven and beautifully executed. It came from design firms all over the country and ran the gamut of styles. It gave me something tangible to strive for.
The AIGA Annual, 365, was even more exciting. It was a book as thick as the bible, beautifully designed by one of our own and filled with some of the best work of our time. And the best thing about this book? It never has to go away. It can be added to your bookshelf, your physical library of creative sources, to be referenced later if needed. The possibility of permanence was a beautiful thing.
Both of these annuals have ceased to inspire. The Print Annual has shrunk to the size of 2 regular magazines, with designs that frankly inspire much less. The AIGA doesn't have this problem - they've stopped producing a physical copy of their annual altogether. What used to be a tangible reason to renew membership, even if I didn't have the time for meetings and networking, is no longer available.
Where have all of the design awards gone? Where everything else has gone - online. So if you submit an entry and win, your piece goes to a temporary spot on the world wide web, which is so large that someone has to be handed a direct link in order to ever see it. You'll likely get one good day of hits, then disappear along with the rest. And then, only your mother will remember where to find it. Or hey, maybe swissmiss will discover you and you can ride the blogosphere for a while. Yeah, you can dream.
This is exactly what the most recent HOW Poster Design Awards offer. Is this kind of recognition really worth the $40 entry fee?
And for award admirers, we will browse through the winners once and bookmark the pieces we love. (allowing less than a second to impress us.) But again, these will inevitably get lost and forgotten. I would rather pay the subscription necessary and have something physical that I can browse through for months or more. This also gives me more time to notice pieces that maybe I didn't at first.
I can agree that printed pieces can be somewhat unnecessary. Yes, we accumulate far too much trash in our lifetime. Not just trash, books that we will never look through. But the examples I bring up now, these were cherished. These are missed dearly. And I can't help but feel betrayed that the giant organizations of our own industry are aiding in moving print to web for good.
Pardon my rant. This is just one print designer's view, and if I don't say anything, these organizations may never consider this possible reason that submissions and membership are declining. Maybe you agree?