Gordon Kaye, GDUSA – Part 2 – continuing the conversation

Michael and Gordon pick up where they left off last week.


Michael Masterson: What drives you and GDUSA? What’s your passion?

Gordon Kaye: We still believe in the power of print and I am awed by the critical role that graphic designers can play in shaping commerce and culture. As long as those two things exist, we will be here in some way, shape or form.

Michael: Because the magazine touches on so many areas of design, what trends do you see in the industry?

Gordon: I am not a designer and, so maybe not the best person to ask this question. I will say that the digital revolution has clearly put web design into the very top tier of how designers earn a living (along with print and package design and promotion). Moreover, as the technologies become more sophisticated, designers are being called upon to up their game — UX design, interactive design, motion graphics design are all becoming important and in-demand professional skills beyond web design. A couple of other thoughts: the digital wave and the increasing move to mobile is forcing designers to simplify their logos, identities and designs for readability and communication on smaller and smaller screens; and I have noticed that the free and open digital exchange is encouraging more unique color use and color exchange.

Michael: Can you tell us a little bit about the American Graphic Design Awards?

Gordon: This is our flagship competition, around for five decades. It is an interesting way to give designers recognition and for everyone to see trends and what is successful. In keeping with our collective temperament and market positioning, we try to make this competition as open, welcoming and democratic as possible. People really like the design annual that comes out of it each year, and we have spun off a couple of targeted competitions to delver deeper into areas of opportunity such as our American Inhouse Design Awards and American Package Design Awards. I also like to think that these competitions help encourage designers — and clients — to strive for great work. Professional graphic designers and commercial printers understand instinctively that effective design is a powerful tool for commerce and culture. My fear is that clients—battered by tight budgets, under pressure for quick turnarounds, steeped in a digital culture, and less educated in the craft of graphic arts—too often understand the cost of everything and the value of nothing. In contests, I look for the pieces, projects and campaigns that define the design problem and craft a thoughtful, strategic and relevant solution. If we’re lucky, it might even be beautiful. Such projects exist; you just have to look harder. Such clients exist; you just have to look harder.

Michael: What blogs, podcasts, Instagram or Twitter posts do you follow?

Gordon: Podcasts such as Debbie Millman’s Design Matters, The John Batchelor Show.

Blogs including Design Observer, Brain Pickings, Grain Edit, Swiss Miss, Brand New Logos, Dexigner, The Die Line, The Creative Group and Real Clear Politics. And on Instagram I like Pantone, AIGA, Stefan Sagmeister, Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman.

Michael: Finally, what might people be surprised to know about you?

Gordon: A few things. I have run several marathons and, even at my advanced age, I run 5 miles every single day. I am very involved in my alma mater, Hamilton College, currently as President of the Alumni Association, because I believe in the institution and in the power of a traditional liberal arts education. The College just went to need-blind admissions which means more students of diverse backgrounds can afford a first-rate education. Finally, in a city, profession, community, family and company that skews politically left (to say the least), I am a registered Republican. I believe there is a socially liberal, fiscally conservative, pro-economic growth path to a kind, fair, vigorous, and successful society. I am trying to figure out whether “compassionate conservatism” can really work. Most everyone I know thinks I am crazy. Maybe so.


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