How does AIGA advocate for the collective interests of designers?
One of the critical roles that AIGA plays is to express the collective interests of the profession through its advocacy efforts or to lead the profession in demonstrating the impact of designers’ many voices on a single issue.
Our efforts can take on many forms. In the past two weeks alone, AIGA has played an active role in:
- raising awareness of the recent spec work contest on the Huffington Post, which resulted in a cascade of negative comments on that site;
- a thoughtful and constructive discussion with Cameron Sinclair of Architecture for Humanity to change their plans for designing a new identity from a speculative competition to an RFP-based volunteer engagement; and
- bringing members‘ attention to the wide-scale infringement of creative rights by the website Logo Garden.
While the ultimate outcome of the Huffington Post competition has not been announced, and Architecture for Humanity was more than willing to make things right, the Logo Garden affair—the most egregious of them all—continues. AIGA alerted members last week, and members are still discovering their own work on the site, illegally obtained—based on what we have heard from members, there may be more than 300 of their logos on the site.
We are in contact with John Williams, Logo Garden’s founder, and have made clear that his efforts to date are inadequate and that we will continue to bring attention to the company’s reprehensible business practices. He has said that he will remove logos that have been identified by their creators as unauthorized, but he is placing the burden—inappropriately—on the designer. Meanwhile, legal actions are being contemplated by several designers.
In response to this violation of designers’ work, attorney Linda Joy Kattwinkel has written an article with further advice on how designers can deal with copyright and trademark infringement, including how to submit a take-down notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). As a legal expert specializing in the rights of artist and designers, she frequently contributes a column to the website of AIGA San Francisco, her local chapter. We’re grateful for her insights as a member, lawyer, artist and longtime AIGA resource on professional practices. Her contribution is an example of the professional resources available through AIGA and the breadth of resources accessible from AIGA, its 66 chapters and 22,000 members.
In order to represent and benefit the interests of all members, AIGA regularly and consistently advocates the value of design, seeks new audiences within leadership in the business and public sectors for the story about design’s value, and garners legislative, legal and regulatory support for designer’s principles and interests. The performance measures for these activities can be elusive, since they often depend upon building relationships long before those relationships are called upon for concrete actions; however, they become clearer when the need to argue designers’ interests becomes urgent.
About the Author: Richard Grefé is the director emeritus of AIGA, the professional association for design, the oldest and largest professional association of designers in the United States representing the interests of 27,000 designers working in a variety of communication media and dimensions, ranging from type and book designers to new media and experience designers. AIGA, o ver twenty years under Ric’s aegis, has become a leading advocate for the value of designing, as a way of thinking and as a means of creating strategic value for business, the civic realm and social change. Currently he is teaching “Human-centered designn for social change” at Wesleyan University. Ric earned a BA from Dartmouth College in economics, worked in intelligence in Asia, reported from the Bronx County Courthouse for AP, wrote for Time magazine on business and the economy and then earned an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Following an early career in urban design and public policy consulting, Ric managed the association responsible for strategic planning and legislative advocacy for public television and led a think tank on the future of public television and radio in Washington.