How do you strike the balance between exuberant young artist
with vision, supporting cast member, ever-ready helper, and
“You have to pay your dues.”
It's a mantra heard often by students and young designers. But
it can mean many different things to many different people. And its
usually stated in the third person. So, for clarification, I've
asked over a dozen successful designers for personal stories about
how they paid their dues.
Most describe it as a period time during which they had to give
and follow patiently, even when they wanted desperately to be
allowed to break loose. They gave up something to receive something
they did not have, something that they desired: credibility,
professional skills, experience-the answer is different for
But when do we go too far? When do we go from paying dues to
selling out? Is it OK to “rent out” your soul once in a while? How
many times is too often? When is it a temporary necessity as
opposed to an intolerable state?
The stories told vary in situation and circumstance, but there
are common themes of hope and reflection. They illustrate the power
of pursuing our individual vision and doing whatever it takes to
make it real. Just thinking about it is not enough!
Creative Director, Vrontikis Design Office
Senior Faculty Member, Art Center College of Design
by Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt
When I was in the sixth grade, I entered my first national design competition, a birthday card to Sp...
by Kim Baer
Just after graduating from college as a printmaker and design student, I returned to Los Angeles bec...
by Margo Chase
Like many middle-class Americans, I grew up with the American Dream. In my family, we were taught th...
by Ann Willoughby
One muggy August day in 1964, I found myself standing in the middle of Pine Street in Hattiesburg, M...
by Bill Grant
I suppose “due paying” means different things to different people. Where I come from, due paying is ...
by John Clark
By 1975, at age 25, I was really smart, probably the smartest I'll ever get. I was living in Marin C...
by Terry Stone
My best advice on this subject is to just drop the notion that dues paying ever really ends. I don't...
by Armin Vit
No matter what state of your career you are in, you’re never too old or too established to pay your ...
by Michael Bierut
One week after I graduated from college in Ohio, I moved to New York with my new wife Dorothy and be...
by Bruce Sterling
Most devotees of design are either refined connoisseurs or starstruck fans of big-name designers. I'...
by Michael Cronan
Payment comes in different forms. Time, energy, intellectual attention and patience are all legal te...
by Wayne Hunt
Either I never paid my dues or I've been paying all along, every week, every year-just one continuou...
by Kelly Goto
When I look back on periods in my life where I struggled to prove myself, and reach the next rung on...
by James Sherraden
I was 20 years old and rummaging through an Amsterdam flea market when I bought for a few guilders w...
Read 17-year-old poet Dominique Holder’s passionate words from AIGA’s town hall, and experience how she enables social justice through poetry.
Section: Inspiration -
Event, Diversity and Inclusion
Curious about what it’s like to work in-house at Facebook? Brian Singer, manager, communication design, interviews himself about life at the company.
The intent of this project was to bring awareness to my local community about the fact that four out of ten homeless individuals live in places not intended for humans. I designed materials for McCreesh Place and Supportive Housing Communities in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Section: Why Design -
advertising, graphic design, nonprofit, print design, signage, pro bono, social issues, social responsibility, Design for Good
Ted Hyunhak Yoon explores government agenda and history textbooks in his research-led designs
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