Posted 21.12.2011 @ 2.52PM
I was a member of AGDA WA for 3 years (1year as a student member and years later I spent 2 years as a professional member) and I was far from impressed with the way the association is run. I don't know if the WA chapter is a good reflection on the rest of AGDA Nationally but I would certainly hope not.
The WA chapter has hardly any events on during a calendar year and regardless of having paid for a professional membership the event entry fee was only $5 cheaper than non members during the time I was a member. Of the small number of events in a year (usually about 6 or so) only a couple might actually be something I was even going to be interested in hence from a financial perspective it simply doesn't add up when trying to retain members.
My second complaint with the way the WA branch runs is it seemed like a insular little "buddy buddy" group who were aloof and "up themselves" as our Aussie vernacular would put it. I realise that design attracts narcissistic personalities but the arrogance of some our states design community is staggering. Perhaps they had simply been on the turps for too long and were letting the liquor talk but I found the whole thing to be a real put off. This is the main reason I have no intentions of renewing my membership with the AGDA WA chapter ever again.
Third complaint - as far as broader industry regulation in WA goes AGDA is a toothless tiger. I know of heaps of examples of professional designers undercutting each other at ridiculously low rates to win clients here. There have also been many instances of "professional" design companies participating in free design pitches on design tenders which is the worst kind of undercutting. AGDA no longer even seems to hold much sway on the content being taught at the various tertiary level design courses in this state. Add to this my knowledge over the years that certain prominent WA design studios have been offering well below award salaries ($15k pa) to graduating designers (who I know personally) for "full time" positions with their studios. The "build your portfolio" carrot many studios dangle is no excuse for not even meeting minimum F/T pay rates.
Sadly it may just be that WA is a joke. After all we are the state where the previous Premier, Alan Carpenter, had an (non graphic designer) office staffer use clip art to design the new WA State Government logo rather than tendering it out to design firms. That speaks volumes about the level of design respect in this state. AGDA WA is doing nothing to educate this state about design at any level and then they cry foul after something like that happens. Fortunately the current Liberal Government did away with that design garbage - replacing it with the old school previous version (which was at least designed by a professional design company).
I really feel for younger designers getting into WA design because this really is an unregulated and unprotected industry and AGDA WA seems to turn a blind eye to unethical behaviour by some of it's own members let alone any other design firms operating in the state. Of course with a state association that meets so infrequently its hardly likely they have their collective fingers on the design pulse of this state. If there was to ever be a true Graphic Design accredited design authority or regulatory body set up it shouldn't be run by AGDA. I think it should probably be controlled by a general design industry body - more like the DIA. Less likely to be a vested interest running the show that way.
If you're looking to join a group of back patters who meet infrequently and discuss their own agendas - join AGDA WA. If you're looking for an association which regulates the professional conduct of its members, or has impact in the broader community, seeking to inform clients, the general public and educational institutions forget it.