Among our priorities is to improve the understanding within the US government of the role of designers and to see that government documents and policies embody an accurate portrayal of designers and their contribution in the 21st century. One of the more prosaic vehicles for this is the Occupational Outlook Handbook of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is often used as a source by high school guidance counselors advising young creative talent on job possibilities. For fifteen years, we have been inching this document closer and closer to reality so that last December, we thought that this year, we would have a fair representation of the challenges and expectations of designers today. BAM! The person who had been managing the editing of the handbook left or retired and the new incumbent sends me a description that starts:
“Graphic designers create visual concepts by hand or using computer software that inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They help to make an organization recognizable by selecting color, images, or logo designs that can be used in advertising and promotion.”
As for work environment, it continues:
“Graphic designers generally work in a studio where they have access to drafting tables, computers, and the necessary software to sketch out their designs.”
I believe there is a necessary role for government, but defining a profession may not be one of its strengths and, in fact, it can be hurting our efforts to improve an understanding of design in the K-12 environment. AIGA will be launching its own efforts to involve designers and chapters in making young people aware of design opportunities.