Bridging the Gap Between the Print and Web Community

There are three things that I hold dear to my heart: design, the web, and community. Being a web designer who loves participating in both educational and social events, I have noticed a strange divided amongst the web design and traditional design communities. In the DC area, these two very distinct circles seem to rarely mix. My observations were recently confirmed and discussed in a very public blog post called "Dear AIGA, where are the web designers?" by Jeffery Zeldman which raised a lot of interesting comments. Jeffery's post specifically addresses the absence of web designers speaking at the AIGA Business and Design Conference:

I can't help noticing that for all the brand directors, creative directors, Jungian analysts, and print designers, one rather significant specimen of the profession is missing. Where are the web (or if you insist, the interaction) designers?

Since this post, Jeffery Zeldman has been added to the speaker list at the AIGA conference, but the 49 comments to this post brought up matters far beyond just AIGA and addressed a broader gap between the communities.

While reading through the responses, I felt a wide range of emotions due to my own personal experiences on both sides of the coin. I went to school for print design. I relate to the traditional design communities like AIGA, but as a web designer, I also love learning from groups like Refresh DC. When attending events put on by both groups, I notice such an overlap in concepts and topics, but rarely an overlap in attendees and speakers. When asking each group about the other, I hear inaccurate presumptions and misconceptions. Changing this has been on my mind for a long time.

I am a board member with the Art Directors Club of Washington DC, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the creative community, and an organization excited about bridging the gap. Traditionally this group has not had a whole lot of web-related programming, but they are enthusiastic about making it happen. The Art Directors Club is for everyone who participates in the art direction process. This could be  anyone from a copywriter to a photographer to a designer or front end-developer. Art direction includes every aspect of creative process, and now (more than ever) the creative process online is happening in record proportions. People working online can learn from those who are working offline  and vice versa. All it takes is some overlap between the two communities, and there won't be any differences anymore... the gap will be closed.

On November 6, ADCMW is taking the first steps in this direction by holding an event called "From Print to Web: It's Just that Easy"  with Dan Rubin of http://superfluousbanter.org. The talk is the first of its kind for the club and will foster a casual, inviting environment for people to come forward and explore the differences and similarities between the two.  We are hoping to draw a attendees from both sides of the spectrum to learn from each other and have an open dialogue. I invite you all to attend.

I would love to hear from you -- have you experienced a similar divide between the two communities? Are there other organizations out there that have been successful at bridging this divide? What might be the positives/negatives in forging the two groups?

Samantha Warren

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Posted in Article Category: #Design & Content
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