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My AIGA SOT III presentation

AIGA SOT III AM Plenary_Jens Gehlhaar

The morning started off great. I am meeting very exciting people.

The first plenary session is with Jena Gelaar and Sonin Kim, moderated by Alice Twemlow. As Alice stated, the focus of the conference is to "map the terrain of contemporary design and its relationship to design education." But the question that she asks applies to all fields, "How do you map what is shifting? How then you read the map and how does it hlep navigate design education?"

The first two speakers addressed these shifts.

Jens Gehlhaar is "one of the branding heavies of the LA design scene." He started in German print design and now is into media and film. Jens opened the presentation with a discussion of the his overlap with filmakers and other imagemakers (photographers and illustrators) in his field.  Not quite motion graphics, not quite film, not just production, he described a terrain in where the categories of moving image and sound creation shifts.  But within the network of the industry, one needs to be commercial or film director or an art director.

So Jens showed us various examples of the work his design firm Brand New School produces. He showed us some poster work in an animation piece that was rejected by AIGA because  it did not fit the criteria for the poster category. He showed us animations done for MTV. One of the things he noted was how in the piece the animation was not strong, neither the filming or illustration, but what he got out of the experience was the realizaton that he now has to compete with film makers not just other designers.

This for me is the main contribution of his talk. As graphic designers expand into other fields, this spaces are not uninhabited. Designers seem to think that they can do everything, but fail to understand that they are in competition not just with the mediocre of the fields but with the best of those fields, so they need to develop those skills to that level. "Type design has to compete with the best. Image making has to compete with the best."

He closed with a posing of the question, "What is graphic design good at?"

  1. the craft of typography (this is the main differentiator)
  2. the range of expression
  3. clarity
  4. futurism, which is shared wth fashion designers and commercial designers as well.

I missed the second presentation because I had to do tech check for my presentation later that day.

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