Beyond Graphic was launched in 2003 with initial essay/manifesto by Canadian designer Errol Saldanha. In his essay of the same name, Saldanha argues for replacing the term “graphic designer” with the more appropriate and encompassing term: Communications Designer. This proposal, which was also addressed by ICOGRADA and the AIGA, does not introduce a new terminology for the sake of it. Instead, it serves as a confirmation of the global reach and growing responsibilities within design today. Saldanha boldly concludes that:
Most business people – the ones who hire us – think that we are at the table to create the “look and feel”. They see our work as decoration, a nice-to-have after the strategic thinking is performed. This is why graphic designers remain at the bottom of the communications chain – below advertising professionals, communication consultants, and marketing strategists. As long as we are seen only as visual enhancers, we will never command the respect (or fees) that other professionals do.
Additionally, Saldanha clarifies what Communications Design implies within three scenarios: the discipline, its practitioners and the field itself. When originally published in 2003, his views caused a stir within the Canadian design community and abroad. He shares:
As intended, my views sparked much controversy – some agreed and some disagreed, but that is the purpose of a debate. Beyondgraphic.org spread virally on the web and was the topic of many heated online discussions. Result? After careful thought, I decided to go with the term communication design(er) and launched
Communication Designers of Toronto (CDOT)in 2007 (now Communication Designers Association (CDA). As part of this decision, I have spent numerous hours attempting to create a simplified model and definition of communication design(er).
This latest organization has grown rapidly, with local chapters in Berlin, Zurich, Toronto, New York and London. Established as a “pro-active association,” it requires members to agree and complete 8 hours of community service hours annually, the CDA’s mission states:
In digital times, where anyone can create an online group, the traditional role of the professional association has changed and so has the role of the designer. Due to our unique membership model, CDA is truly a proactive association, always looking for new ways to engage members. Our organizational structure is streamlined for entrepreneurial action by those who want to advance our design discipline and be the best in their field.
This single step makes the CDA vastly different than bigger design associations in North America. Although the movement is still in its infancy—by demanding members to become directly involved with their peers, the organization and the general public—the CDA encourages us to take a new look at the possible role and structure of design institutions. of the future. Saldanha concluded his 2003 essay with a simple appeal:
How can we command respect and fairer fees when we haven’t communicated our own “brand” to the public? We must band together and take our industry to its rightful place in the professional business world. We either redefine our own profession or graphic design ourselves right out of existence. The first step is retiring an outdated term that is doing us far more harm than good.