AIGA – dash to the airport

aiga_design_conference_2005.gifSo Ben Karlin was on stage talking about America: The Book. He’s very funny and answering John Hockenberry’s questions before he’s about to get off stage. John mentions that Ben has to catch a plane and he doesn’t even flinch. I don’t know how he can be so calm. I know I wasn’t and nobody backstage was either. What the audience doesn’t know is that it’s three minutes till 11am and his plane is off the ground in less then an hour.

Ben calmly walks off stage and chaos erupts in the darkness backstage. His mic is quickly removed and he runs over to me to grab his stuff. Lunch started at the end of his presentation and about 2,300 people are exiting the room all of which would have love to stop and talk to Ben. I take him the back way down and we run down an escalator that isn’t working from the 3rd floor. Getting to the bottom we run full speed across the length of the convention center. Ben comments on how much he hates schedules that make him do this between puffs of breath. No convention goes have made it down to the first floor yet and we don’t have to worry about a fan stopping him. Another AIGA staff is waiting for us at the door and points us to a waiting car with the engine on. the doors and trunk pop he jumps in and I put his stuff in the trunk. The car pulls away as I’m closing the trunk.

I check my watch and it’s 11:01. We made it through the massive convention center in 4 minutes. Wow. exciting but I’m out of breath.

aigadc2005, aiga, graphic design, boston, BenKarlin, thedailyshow, johnstewart

AIGA – Day 2

aiga_design_conference_2005.gifIt’s hard to say what I would not give to have a laptop at the conference now. Not that I’m trying to keep up with Kottke but there are actually a good number of people blogging and there’s not way I’m going to be able to read them all. Not getting home till 11:30 I blog for the benefit of AIGA which I hope to help drag it kicking and screaming in to the blogosphere.

I’d like to say high to all the folks from Kottke and UnBeige who have been doing much better coverage then I have. I suppose working the conference does have it’s downsides. For other blogs present at AIGA look at this handy list:

  1. Kottke
  2. UnBeige
  3. Reverse Innovation
  4. Speak Up
  5. PeterMe
  6. Open the Window

UnBeige actually has a number of great posts about the blog focus session (the only panel about the web) that included Jen Bekman, Michael Bierut, Jason Kottke, and Armin Vit. I was sad that after the main stage presentation there was not much to do backstage but I was glad I got to go to the focus sessions.

I had a chance to meet Jason Kottke earlier in the day (the lone laptop in the sea that is the main stage audience). People have different strategies for meeting celebrities and mine is simple. Get in, say hi, compliment their past work, thank them and then move on. You don’t want to be clingy. Jason doesn’t need some groupie talking his ear off. You know…. just plant the seed of friendship and move on. Don’t kill it with too much attention.

I was a little late to the blog session since I was running DJ Spooky, aka Paul Miller, around the convention center. I’m not a big fan of text messaging (at least not with my phone) but I let Paul text all he wanted since he was having a hard day. I was hoping by the title “To blog or not to blog: What’s the question?” that it would have been more about encouraging the audience to blog, Instead it was more of a over view of what all four of them did. And even then it was a brief overview and I wish they had deeper in to how blogging is changing things. I need to remember, baby steps for AIGA. It needs to learn what the internet is before it can figure out what blogging is. I don’t know about all of the audience but a number of them did seem to have a good grasp of what was going on and tried to push the conversation deeper.

Today was very smooth backstage. The band upstairs knew what was going on and so did the sketch artist and the integration between them and intros and exits were wonderful. I was very relived to see everything working after the 1st day where everything just felt jerky. I don’t know if it seemed that way out in the crowd but I doubt it. Everything always seems worse from backstage. It’s just too easy to see the mistakes as they happen.

aigadc2005, aiga, graphic design, boston, kottke, DJSpooky, PaulMiller, JenBekman, MichaelBierut, ArminVit

AIGA – Day 1

aiga_design_conference_2005.gifI’ve run several large events in similar size venues as the main stage for AIGA’s Design Conference but none nearly as elaborate. Video is what really make it hard. There are nine video projectors if you count what is in the living room. Two video cameras so the people in the back can see and seven laptops backstage to make everything work. Switching the feed being output is crazy and it must take a lot of experience to make it run well.

We had a couple of snags backstage with a couple of graphics shown out of order but over all everything was really smooth. I found the mistakes a bit more jarring but I guess that’s just because I wasn’t used to it. Michelle Stanek has been running the show backstage and has been doing an amazing job and has been great at using me as support to make the show run well. I really feel as if I’m helping things run and not just being a waste of space and some times volunteering can seem like. I think it would be awesome to have her job though I haven’t asked how they plan it. If they have one central office or if they just are always calling from all over the nation.

aigadc2005, aiga, graphic design, boston, event programming

Gaphic Design should be more then just print design

aiga_design_conference_2005.gifKottke’s computer is lonely and I’m not all that surprised. The more I work with the AIGA volunteers I really feel that graphic design is really only print design. The fact that I just carried back about 20 pounds of paper samples (I don’t print but I am a freebie whore) isn’t helping my attitude. I think of graphic design as so much more. I think at least any kind of graphics with a commercial focus is graphic design and I’m sure more can be. I want to get more involved with AIGA (perhaps because, like CUB, they have the most money) and I hope to bring a lot more of a web edge to the organization.

If only I had a laptop I would have love to get some of the techy conference feel to it. AIGA’s current try for interaction with the crowd is limited to a wall where people can hang sketches. A good start but not exaxtly the 21st century. John Hockenberry had the essence of the right idea when he talked about emailing his phone and calling people in the crowd for feed back. I’m still not sure if that was a joke or not.

kottke, aigadc2005, aiga, graphic design, boston

AIGA – Day negative 2

aiga_design_conference_2005.gifToday was the volunteer orientation with only 2 days to get everything ready for Thursday and the start of the conference. The Hynes convention center is rather large and will have no problem holding the 2,300 attendees. The conference is split between 2 floors with the living room and market place on the 1st floor and the main conference hall is on the 3rd floor. The AIGA staff are really worried about getting people back and forth from the focus sessions since people will probably get lost trying to find there way around. Most of the focus session rooms on the 1st floor are not that big and might fill up quicker then the ones on the 3rd floor which are larger rooms. If you are planning to go to one of the events on the 1st floor be sure to get there as early as possible or you might be locked out. The layout of the building can also be circular and so getting turned around might be a problem as well. Be sure to take a tour of the building when you get there so you know where most of the rooms are.

Dorothy gave a long over view of the events going on at the conference and made it sound twice more exciting then it looks on paper. I was hoping to meet more people from Boston in the volunteer staff but I guess I underestimated how far people will come from to volunteer, the answer being just about everywhere but Alaska and Hawaii.

If you are an AIGA member with little cash to spare and can still make it to Boston I suggest trying to get the living room pass for $350. They are broadcasting everything on the main stage and then showing other cool stuff in between. You miss out on the focus sessions but you get almost the whole conference experience for half the price. Not to mention that the living room has nice couches while the main stage has crappy chairs. And yes the entire building will have wifi.

If you have any general questions I will be happy to answer them from what I’ve learned so far. Anything specific really should be directed to the official AIGA Design Conference site. At the conference look for people in the non breathing plastic white jackets that all AIGA staff will be wearing.

aigadc2005, AIGA, boston