INside Track: What’s lacking?…In-house MIA

It’s telling that when you compare the 2 most recent In-house Intelligence charts on respect, the in-house respondents clearly believe that they garner more respect from their companies than their peers in the greater design community. There are plenty of reasons in-house designers might feel slighted – lack of in-house programming at industry conferences, lack of content in industry publications and on websites, lack of dialogue on in-house issues on listserves, message boards and blogs. But there’s another “lack of” that should be acknowledged – Lack of participation.

Given the large proportion of in-house designers that are a subset of the overall design community, there should be a much larger representation of in-house designers on local AIGA chapter boards, a greater number of posts to the InHOWse blog, more AIGA in-house members, more attendees at the InHOWse conference and more in-house leaders communicating the achievements of the in-house design community.

The fact that many designers on the agency and design firm side look down upon in-house design is more a matter of ignorance than arrogance. Unless the in-house community becomes more visible and educates the design world on what they bring to the party then the in-house design community will continue to be marginalized and held in low regard. But who’s fault is that?

If you’re attending the HOW or InHOWse conferences next week look for ways to participate in the design community beyond the few days of the event and speak with your peers who work in ad agencies and design firms. It’s the best opportunity you’ll have all year. It would be a shame to pass up the chance to elevate our profession and your ability to impact it in real and powerful ways.

5 thoughts on “INside Track: What’s lacking?…In-house MIA

  1. Karen J-K

    I’m curious, could the discrepancy be monetary? Do you know about any research showing how many agencies and design firms pay for membership and conferences vs. how many in-house designers get support for such things? Maybe my experience is unique, but, as in-house designers, we are not given time off of work for conferences or training and if we want professional memberships we have to pay for them ourselves. I can’t afford the vacation time or the personal cash to jaunt off to these annual conferences or to pay for very many membership fees out of pocket. In the past, when our organization supported professional development, I was much more active in the local AIGA and went to conferences about every other year.

    1. Samantha

      I’ve had the same experience. Until my current possition, my employeer didn’t pay for any further design developement. I purchased design magazines and organization membership out of my own pocket. Last year was my first year attending any design conference, mostly because I couldn’t afford the travel expenses as well as the conference fees but my new employeer footed the bill. Although I would have loved to attend this year’s HOW conference, I am so swamped I couldn’t convince my boss to let me be out of the office for a few days muchless pay for the conference and the time I’m attending lectures and workshops, not working. It’s a struggle to show the ROI although the inspiration and networking are well worth it in my view.

    2. Lauren

      I absolutely think the discrepancy is monetary. If you work for an agency who’s business is Design, it makes sense for you to go to a Design conference. However, if you work at an In-House agency that produces a catalog, for instance, it is more likely you will end up at a mail order conference. I have been to a HOW conference (and it was well worth it) but that was the perfect storm of a boss that was motivated by more than sales numbers, a more profitable year, and the pressure from HOW’s deadline for the early-bird/group discount.

      1. Trish

        Same experience here as well. I was told by my supervisor’s supervisor (don’t you love the corporate hierarchy). That I need to stop asking to go to the HOW or inHOWse design conferences. That they would be too overwhelming and too expensive. Yet, we are always asked to “think creatively” “think outside the box”. Basically he/she said that if any one of us were to be sent to a conference we would have to come back and have to prove it was worth the funds by redesigning our brand identity or something similar. I would like to know if this same stipulation is made of people in other departments who go to, say, a management conference?

        This is a particularly sore point with me this time of year as I am constantly getting e-mails about the upcoming HOW conferences.

  2. Lonnius

    I’ve actually had a manager say she didn’t know much about design and so would defer to “the experts.” By “the experts,” she meant the design firm they’d hired to redesign our new logo (well, to “rebrand” our company—all we got was a new logo). Although it was a nice design, my concern was for it’s usability across all media. Of course, all my concerns were ignored since I apparently wasn’t an “expert.”

    My concerns were well warranted when we were unable to reproduce the colors chosen for the logo in hardly any media, and the guidelines for its use were so restrictive that when I asked how I could use the logo over a full-color image the response was, “Don’t.” On top of this, the CMYK values assigned to the PMS colors by the firm were unique to us, which meant the Pantone standard was basically thrown out the window. I guess everything I design now will have to go through “the experts.”