Proposal for a Constitution

In light of what we dis­cussed on Wednesday both in the group meet­ing and sem­inar I wanted to col­lect together all the things I would like to see in a pro­fes­sional body for visual com­mu­nic­at­ors. This is very much what I per­son­ally would like to see in a pro­fes­sional body so not every­one will agree. It is also very much a draft, not exhaust­ive and as a pro­fes­sional body is quite a prag­matic thing to pro­pose I wanted to be ideal­istic in what I think its remit and pur­pose should be. I am refer­ring to it as a con­sti­tu­tion (very American) for want of a bet­ter word and to avoid call­ing it a mani­festo. There are lots of grey edges to some of the state­ments as we dis­cussed as a group but I wanted to make some state­ments based on gen­eral prin­ciples initially.

Starting with the basics I would want the body to:

Be Democratic — open to all visual com­mu­nic­at­ors who can demon­strate their status as a visual com­mu­nic­ator to a level of com­pet­ency. I think by mak­ing it inclus­ive not an elit­ist club would help make it dif­fer­ent from the some of the cur­rent organ­isa­tions we have now. I think it should also be trans­par­ent in its beha­viour and account­able to its members.

Be Not for profit — ideally mem­ber­ship would be free, and the body could either have char­it­able status or be fun­ded pub­lic­ally or by trusts or arts fund­ing. This may how­ever raise issues of priorities/agendas and interests. Alternatively mem­ber­ship fees should be min­imal and only cover costs. (This would obvi­ously need look­ing at in more detail if it were to become a reality)

Create and main­tain stand­ards – through its mem­ber­ship selec­tion via a peer review panel (that are demo­crat­ic­ally elec­ted?) that demon­strates com­pet­ency and tech­nical abil­ity through a num­ber of years of pro­fes­sional prac­tice or an accred­ited course plus pro­fes­sional prac­tice. I did also think that maybe there should be a ‘junior’ mem­ber­ship for stu­dents, that is not cer­ti­fied, as they would oth­er­wise miss out on the bene­fits of membership.

Promote the under­stand­ing and appre­ci­ation of the industry and what we do as design­ers through:

A reg­u­lar journal, which would be not just for mem­bers but avail­able to buy pub­licly and be avail­able in schools as well as uni­ver­sit­ies and colleges.

Becoming a con­sult­ant to the gov­ern­ment for how visual com­mu­nic­a­tion is taught in schools and what pro­vi­sion is included in the national cur­riculum for it. It could even run its own course for primary and sec­ond­ary teach­ers about how to teach design.

An awards scheme, I’m think­ing of a graph­ics equi­val­ent of the Sterling prize. It would obvi­ously only be respec­ted as much as the body who was award­ing it.

Support for stu­dents for instance, through a num­ber of bursar­ies, par­tic­u­larly at post­gradu­ate level to replace the Arts and Humanities research coun­cil ones. It could also offer talks, sem­inars and work­shops for stu­dents although a lot of places do this already.

A per­man­ent build­ing which could house and show­case a range of exhib­i­tions from small to high pro­file exhib­i­tions, this could also incor­por­ate space for stu­dents to use for their end of year shows. It could become the primary place in the coun­try to show­case visual com­mu­nic­a­tion and house a per­man­ent archive of visual communication.

To pro­duce best prac­tice guid­ance for a whole range of issues such as access­ib­il­ity in print and on screen, legib­il­ity and read­ab­il­ity, sig­nage sys­tems, design­ing for chil­dren, adults and old people and par­tially sighted, blind and dis­abled people. These could exist as work­ing doc­u­ments that could be updated to stay up to date with research.

It could also com­mis­sion visual com­mu­nic­a­tion research pro­jects and work with uni­ver­sit­ies and other insti­tu­tions for these.

Regular pro­gram of Continued Professional Development sem­inars. Architects get these why don’t design­ers. These could include tech­no­lo­gical, cul­tural and industry devel­op­ments and should also be avail­able through their web­site to make them access­ible to all members.

To have an annual con­fer­ence and gen­er­ally cre­ate an arena for debate and dis­course about design and issues facing the industry through talks, a blog/website/discussion board and their journal.

Be a cent­ral resource for design related issues and guid­ance, for example Intellectual prop­erty, which could include a resource of IP laws and a register of IP law­yers. It could also address sus­tain­ab­il­ity issues with register of FSC etc accred­ited print­ers and paper man­u­fac­tur­ers. This could be done through their web­site. It could also have a ref­er­ence lib­rary in its build­ing and a bookshop.

A eth­ics com­mit­tee, made up of non-designers as well as design­ers to address eth­ical issues in design (?)

To lobby other indus­tries reduce or stop the prac­tice of free pitch­ing and free com­pet­i­tions and maybe pro­duce a set of guidelines for busi­nesses on min­imum pay­ment for pitches

As Ben men­tioned it could also have a com­pany black­list of those who per­sist­ently don’t pay for pitches, hold free com­pet­i­tions or don’t respect IP law.

It could lobby/work with the gov­ern­ment & other pub­lic organ­isa­tions to get effect­ive visual com­mu­nic­a­tion higher up the agenda in pub­lic pro­jects and major pub­lic insti­tu­tions and get design­ers on board at earlier stages in pub­lic projects.

It could also work at cre­at­ing a dia­logue between the pub­lic, gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and design­ers to cre­ate bet­ter under­stand­ing and recog­ni­tion of visual com­mu­nic­a­tion and for design­ers, a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the needs of their users. Although in prac­tical terms I have not yet worked out how this would happen.

To try and do some­thing about unpaid intern­ships, this is a dif­fi­cult area because it would need sup­port from both the industry and from the gov­ern­ment and recog­ni­tion and sup­port by busi­nesses of the true cost (in paid work hours) of design.

Our pro­fes­sional body would of course need an iden­tity, badges, an iphone app and maybe capes.

Like I said I’m being a bit idealist.

This list is not exhaust­ive, so please add to it or dis­agree with what I have put for­ward ini­tially. Many of these things already exist and but it would be good to have them all in one place.


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Paul McNeil,

    Hello tumble­weed!

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