In-house designers make up a majority (around 60%) of all graphic designers practicing in the US today. If you add in industrial designers, who typically work in a corporate environment, the number of in-house creatives is probably higher.
This begs the question – where is everybody? The InHOWse blog maintains a very healthy readership but not nearly numbers representative of the 60% figure. In many AIGA chapters around the country, this majority does not play out in their local membership. Online and print publications cater to the most active segment of the design community, which is not in-house designers, and their coverage of in-house issues reflects that fact.
This is a loss for those in-house designers currently not participating in industry organizations and for those who are. The less active innies are in the design community, the less knowledge sharing, content and opportunities for meaningful dialog on topics relevant to them will be available.
Lack of engagement is especially damaging to the profession because in-house designers receive precious little, if any, training specific to their role as designers practicing in the corporate environment. If the in-house community is to truly deliver on the promise of delivering great design artifacts and design thinking for its host companies in-house designers will need to rely on and learn from the insights of their colleagues.
The potential contributions of in-house designers to the greater design community is not limited to just the number who participate. There are many in-house designers and creative directors working in innovative design driven organizations who have stories, ideas, insights and advice that need to be heard.
HOW has taken an important first step in creating community by establishing the Full House Ning communities made up of this year’s InHOWse conference attendees which will be launching in a few weeks. Any in-house designer currently not a member of AIGA should join their local chapter and participate and this fall there will be an exceptional opportunity to hear from in-house thought leaders who will be speaking at AIGA’s Pivot conference in Phoenix.
Unless and until there is greater and more active engagement on the part of in-house designers in the dialog, publications, events and organizations dedicated to the design industry, we will remain second-class citizens and unfortunately, deservedly so.