I've just been looking through the various sites out there for Australian graphic designers, and I have to say AIF is an incredible resource - having an active forum full of quality professionals gives me the idea that this is the top place to go as a designer in Melbourne.
I've recently opened my business in Elsternwick, after working in a couple of studios, and the ability to network with other designers would be fantastic.
I was reading through the debates about AGDA membership that were happening last year, and I can't say that I've noticed any change between then (may/june 2011) to now (dec 2012).
This reinforces the idea that it's a slow moving, not terribly active organisation that most people can't see the value in. Their website is not easy to navigate, and there are a heap of areas where the last updates were in 2009 or 2010.
I feel like AGDA doesn't really care a lot about web design and front-end development. They should be prodding all the design education providers to make web design a compulsory part of the curriculum, including HTML and CSS. It's like not teaching students how to use InDesign.
Are there any members here (who aren't part of state council) who can speak to its relevance and value? I'm happy to pay the $385 (265 + 120) if I know that there are regular events (with a hefty discount on ticket price), regular networking events (same time/place every month), maybe some free resources (a free book or something?), some proof of regular work coming through their directory, and a better website which allowed for a more open network of designers.
I'd be happy to help out, but I don't have any confidence in the information on the website, and it's just so poorly designed for conveying information effectively.
Seems SocialMelb and TheFetch, as well as Inspire9 and other places are filling the gap where AGDA seems to have departed (in Melbourne anyway). Have they always seemed this distant?
Wait, what is the point you are making about indesign?
I know CSS / HTML but I don't believe it should be compulsory for print designers. However the reality is these days that more and more is moving to web so it's certainly beneficial for people to understand it. Indesign on the other hand is something every single print designer should know back to front.
the point i was making was that most young designers are often asked to design and create websites, but because they have no understanding or knowledge about the web, they end up designing things that either won't work on the web or that break conventions in a bad way.
the best way to counteract that problem is education. the course i did 3 years ago had web design as an optional subject which was the start of my html/css journey, and it was a little disheartening to know that even since then, the attendance in the class hasn't grown at all.
knowing the web informs my print design and my branding work, and vice versa.
if i didn't know indesign, that would be detrimental to me as a designer in getting a job and forging a career. it is becoming the same with the web, and i guess that's the point i'm making - new graduates without web knowledge will find it hard to crack into the industry, and will become less relevant in future.
I'm a member in Sydney, and joined earlier in the year before I graduated to get the student price.
I've been to a couple of events this year, and I know there's been one or two that I would have liked to have gone to but couldn't make. Ticket discounts weren't bad - one was free, I think, but limited to members - but I don't know that they're going to be enough to bring me back next year.
I definitely agree that they feel slow and unmoving - as a recent graduate, I want an industry body that feels like it wants me, and I don't know that that's the feeling I get from AGDA. They forgot to mail me my membership card for like a month after I joined, which probably wasn't a good start. (And the website is a disaster.)
Considering the strong non-AGDA design community we've got in Sydney (and I'm sure you've got in Melbourne), I can't say I necessarily recommend being an AGDA member - especially when you could get a conference or a stack of books from the price.
AGDA NSW, at least, rebranded this year (I'm not sure if it's country-wide or just local), and I'm hoping that that's a sign that they're getting their act together. But we'll see, I guess.