Design Dialogue: Past Presidents featuring Paul Carew

With AIGA celebrating its 100-year anniversary, AIGA Idaho has decide to look back at our own beginnings and catch up with our past presidents.

We start of with our Founding President, Paul Carew, who served from Mid-2008 until December of 2009. Currently, Paul owns his own agency, Carew Co. in downtown Boise. 

The Beginnings

As Paul Carew meets me for a coffee, we catch up over how his term as Founding President began, as he joined Jodie Thiel, David Casey, Robert Barney, and Tom Volk, who got the ball rolling on starting AIGA Idaho prior to his involvement. A number of “unofficial” events were held, including a talk by the Creative Director at Xbox, Shelley Armstrong, a screening of “Helvetica,” and a partner event with the Boise Advertising Federation where we brought in Patrick Coyne, Editor of Communication Arts magazine.

At that time, our chapter was the 60th Chapter of the AIGA, so the Board created ‘The Sixty’— as a way to commemorate the first 60 members of 60th chapter. With this they planned a party and invited anyone who was interested, and the hype brought over 100 people and an awesome start to AIGA Idaho.

Some of our early “official” events included speakers like Von Glitschka, Ken Barber of House Industries, and Debbie Millman (Sterling Brands & the radio show Design Matters).

Why did you join AIGA?

Paul joined AIGA as a student at the Tyler School of Art / Temple University and joined as a professional member in 1995. It was guest speakers like Paula Scher (Tyler Alumni) that made it impossible not become a member (as many events were members only). “I joined just to see this event.”

Much of Tyler School of Art’s faculty were AIGA members and as there was no such thing as the Internet, so getting involved in the AIGA was a natural extension of being a designer. “I didn’t use a computer at the time…pretty sure I mailed my AIGA application in with a check.”

What benefits did you get from joining AIGA

Social Networking – On top of making professional connections, AIGA events such as speakers and studio tours, were a great benefit. With a move to New York City (that came with a busy 11+ hour workday), Paul had little time to socialize. AIGA bridged that gap, offering a social setting to talk about the things he loved.

Education – Attending the AIGA / Harvard Business School program (a week-long condensed MBA program geared towards creative people), Paul got to meet, study with, and even dine with some of his design heroes, including Michael Bierut.

Connections / Friends – With a current running total of 67 chapters and over 25,000 members, AIGA has opened up an entire library of contacts around the country for Paul. “You have friends in every state, whether you know them or not. You can reach out to the network no matter where you are.”

Ethics – A major benefit for Paul is also being able to list proudly that he is a member of AIGA, abiding by the ethical standards of the organization.

With endless resources, a vast network of connections and a responsibility as designers to support and protect our industry, the benefits of AIGA are endless. Paul said beautifully… “Its not a question of ‘if,’ but a question of ‘when.’ AIGA is our trade organization, I always thought you HAVE to be a part of that, if you care about your profession.“

What benefits did you get by being a board member?

Idaho Representation – With Idaho as the 60th chapter, the AIGA Idaho board really wanted to put Idaho on the map. The idea to start getting their work out there and getting Idaho discovered as a creative hot spot, was one of many things that drove the boards’ beginnings.

Dialogue With Other Chapters – The Monthly AIGA President’s Call connected Paul with Chapters all over the country, allowing the Presidents to collaborate over their similar concerns and issues.

Leadership Retreat – The Leadership Retreat, held yearly for all the AIGA leaders nationwide, brings a lifetime of memories. With Paul as the Founding President, he was the first face to say “hello” for AIGA Idaho, which was quote and honor and is an unforgettable memory for him.

Giving Back – The ability to give back to the trade that offers you a paycheck everyday is a great way to sustain our industry.

Building Good Foundations – Educate students/future designers through mentoring and educational events is time well spent (and improves the future of our industry).

Would you recommend joining AIGA Idaho?

With all the benefits membership brings, it is more of a question to ask why you wouldn’t join AIGA. In our industry of networking, idea sharing and collaboration, AIGA is a great stepping stone into any agency or design job.

As we celebrate our 100-year anniversary, Paul makes a great point that it is up to us as professionals to educate on the rights and wrongs of our profession (as well as standing up to poor practices like crowdsourcing, speculative work, and de-valued design work). Mentoring and educating our members on best practices, use of contracts, and ethical practices is crucial to being good designers.

What’s your excuse for not being a member?

Anything you wish you could have done that wasn’t accomplished?

As we start our new chapter this year, there is always room to grow and Paul brought up some great basics to incorporate into this years board.

  •  Educating the business world on the value of graphic design and/or encourage the business world to hire members of AIGA for their ethics and professionalism.
  • Educate the community on the value of original creative work and steer them away from speculative work and crowdsourced design work.
  • Bring an AIGA speaking presence to business conferences.

As we roll out another wonderful year of exciting events and catch up with the people that helped us get here, AIGA Idaho is looking forward to seeing as many new faces as we can and make this year the best one yet!

Big thanks to Paul Carew for his time and recap of our chapter’s history and everyone else that helped us get to where we are today.


By Amela Subasic
Published August 10, 2014
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