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  • Writer's picturelisa winstanley

What iF! Exhibiting Visual Communication an Assistant Professor's Challenge.

One of the things I set out to achieve when I started my journey as an Assistant Professor was to try to exhibit my work. However, as a graphic designer that's not as easy as it might initially seem. I mean when was the last time you went to an art gallery that showcased any form of graphic design? Logos? Websites? branding? I'm guessing your answer to that ranges from never to hardly ever. This type of work is classed quite firmly in the sphere of the applied arts, and whilst there are some spaces available to this type of design, contemporary art galleries don't seem to be lining up to exhibit commercial visual communication. And therein lies my problem. As an assistant prof. of Visual Communication I'm required to publish my creative research by exhibiting and when my work doesn't 'fit' into conventional art gallery spaces where does this leave design educators? Well, from what I have gathered it leaves us at the mercy of design competitions as one of the only avenues to 'publish' our creative work. Design competitions seem to be a wonderful opportunity to not only win an award, but to also then have the work exhibited in a physical space and then published in the award Annual and/or in their online gallery. Great right? But at what cost? $$$$$

Since starting my journey as an assistant prof. back in January of 2018. I am incredibly fortunate to be the recipient of multiple design awards, ranging from winning the San Francisco Design Week Awards to The Good Design Awards and most recently I received a coveted iF award 2021. Great right! However, this post is not intended as a bragging platform or narcissistic self adulation (although I am incredibly proud of myself) but instead it's intended to question what alternative avenues for graphic design publication there might be that don't cost the earth?! I am actually afraid to add up the amount of money I have spent to enter these awards to the point where I've lost count of the zeros! Some awards are free to enter, some charge a few hundred dollars and some end up in the thousands. It's a racket! but what are my alternatives? Where are the other creative publishing opportunities? From what I can gather there are none. If I want to publish my branding project then I must pay for the privilege and take my chances on placing for an award. My only option seems to be to select the most prestigious awards (often with the most prestigious price tag) and hope my work makes the cut. As I said I'm fortunate enough for that to be currently happening but my bank balance is certainly worse for wear!

So if anyone out there in the field of design education knows how I might showcase my work in a way that will please my tenure committee and leave my bank account in the black feel free to share!



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