In the 1980s I would regularly stop by the AIGA offices in NYC to browse the library and view design shows. It helped me feel connected to the design profession. But here in the Capital District with our local chapter spread out over hundreds of miles I've never been very involved (despite being a member for 20+ years). Once I was part of an organization called The Creative Club. With professionals in a variety of fields—we had fun and we networked but we lacked focus and fizzled. When I started Aurora Design, I joined The Graphic Artists Guild for education and support. And, for a few years, I joined the American Marketing Association. The one local organization I seemed to avoid was the Ad Club. I was a graphic designer. I don't sell things, I don't work in advertising, and I don't particularly like cocktail hours. So how could I fit in?
Despite my reservations, over the past dozen years I've entered and been to several Ad Club award banquets. And, like a self-fulfilling prophecy I was an outsider. I wasn't part of an agency with a reserved table and loud cheering. (The year I brought a client with me, and the evening involved dancing Oompa Loompas definitely didn't help my attitude.)
Last Friday was the 2015 Prom Night-themed Addy’s award banquet. Goofy theme and all, as I pulled into the parking lot, I found that I was really looking forward to the evening. This year was different. This year a group of freelancers reserved a table of our own. We work by ourselves every day but this one night we joined together to cheer, honor and support one another.
That one simple change made all the difference.
As I had in past years I saw former clients, old friends from my Creative Club days, beloved students and colleagues from across the region. (And was told I was one of the industry old guard. Thanks Derek!) We socialized and caught up and as the program started the crowd broke up as we each found our way to our tables. And this time instead of lamely joining a mixed table of people that don’t know one another—I went to a welcoming table of friends. These amazing, funny and talented graphic designers all know the struggle of balancing creative work and business, loneliness and being at our clients beck and call. We laughed (a lot). We cheered (a lot). We took silly pictures. And we had fun. And the icing on the cake, we ended the evening with six awards in front of us.
So while the Addy’s are outwardly all about competition. It is important to remember that they are also a celebration of community. My hat is off to everyone who entered, was a finalist and a winner. You are all winners in my book.