AIGA has been a huge part of my professional life for the last 2 decades, and I can think of scores of memories to highlight. This one happened shortly after I became an AIGA member in 1989 when I went to the AIGA National Conference in San Antonio.
The entire conference was amazing for me, but I will forever remember the impromptu standoff between conference co-chair Tibor Kalman and legendary Minneapolis designer Joe Duffy. Kalman had been pontificating throughout the conference about the power and obligation we have as designers to influence what we are designing and not blindly follow client direction just to generate profit or gain. Kalman called out Duffy as an offender of this practice following Joe’s brilliant and beautiful presentation of the latest Duffy Design material and their recent merger with Michael Peters Group.
Word of the debate spread like wildfire and by the time they both arrived in the open conference room the crowd was ten people deep surrounding an open circle in the middle of the room—the symbolism was rich. The two engaged in a spirited—and sometimes hostile—debate with Kalman pacing around the “ring” and Duffy standing solidly in the middle. That conference was my first exposure to the deeper issues of design and the passionate views we all hold. It had an enormous impression on me and continues to influence my work to this day.
While I was not able to meet Tibor Kalman before his untimely death in 1999, I have had the pleasure to get to know Joe Duffy in the subsequent years—yet another great outcome of my AIGA experience.

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