Recap and Photos from the Graphic Design Reference event with Armin Vit


On Thursday evening, Feb. 4, AIGA Houston brought us an event with Austin-based designer and educator Armin Vit. “Graphic Design Referenced” is a new book from Armin and his spouse and partner, Bryony Gomez-Palacio. Their design firm, Under Consideration, was asked by a publisher to create a new graphic design reference book. Armin started the evening by describing the arduous process of inventing an up-to-date guide to everything that’s happened before and is available now to inform and assist a designer.


About 50 AIGA members and friends enjoyed wonderful snacks and beer at Rudyard’s. The advertising signage and funky décor set the mood admirably for a friendly discussion of what’s important in design. We had the entire upper room to ourselves, and it was easy to talk, listen, and work the room.


April Guzik, Robin Parrish, John Luu, Robin Tooms and the other board members of AIGA Houston brought plenty of name tags , t-shirts, images and ideas to share. (T-shirt are on sale for a new low price, so contact April if you want to buy any.)


Armin was born in Mexico City and worked for years in New York and around the country at firms such as marchFIRST and Pentagram. He and Bryony established the Under Consideration design firm in 2001 and recently moved it from NYC to Austin. They are as famous for their blog and discussion forum, SpeakUp, as they are for their work. Armin was among the first practicing designers (as opposed to instructors) who encouraged designers to be well-educated about business practices and design theory. In their book “Graphic Design Referenced” Armin and Bryony work hard to share the legacy and acknowledge great designers who’ve come before us.


Houston’s designers, photographers, and art directors enjoyed the presentation, and it was easy to move from the audience to the bar! The presentation was a chance to learn about the challenges of publishing a design history book. Armin showed many famous examples of type, logos, and graphics design, then explained how hard it is to license them for reproduction.


Designer Jeff Djie took many wonderful pictures are this event, which you can see on his blog:


After the presentation, Armin ran a trivia contest for design history. Eight people volunteered to play in the ‘tournament’, and armed with copies of Graphic Design Referenced, they scrambled to answer some of the trickiest history questions we’ve ever heard.


The questions made us think about how designers have developed their craft, the serious business challenges they’ve faced, and the way companies constantly change their graphics.


We also learned how designers are educated, how they share and steal credit for work, and how much  they build on each others’ contribution.


Much to her dismay, AIGA President Robin Tooms won the tournament, showing a real flare for scanning the index and the text for clues, as well as a good grasp of design history, of course.


All the copies we had of “Graphic Design Referenced” were sold during the evening, and Armin autographed them. He confessed there will probably never be an online version of the book, so keep an eye out for used copies, if you don’t mind the fingerprints.

By John Luu
Published February 19, 2010
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