The Graphic Communication Society of Oklahoma
By James Robert Watson, PhD
The GCS began in the early 1970s as the Oklahoma City Art Director's Club, then became the Graphic Artist's Association, and, since the early 1980s, the Graphic Communication Society of Oklahoma, inspired by the Dallas Society of Visual Communications. But, in the early 1990s, the membership numbers decreased and enthusiasm among the design community to get involved was waning. The organization had gotten tired - the same old stuff each month. There was a lot of work to bring in speakers and to promote the monthly meeting. It got to the point that the officers called a pow-wow meeting to discuss the future of the organization. One officer even wore all black to the meeting, thinking it would result in the death of the GCS.
As an educator, I saw the society a bit differently - it could have value as an adjunct to formal teaching by pooling resources and providing programs of significance. While disappointed (and even a bit angry) at the meeting in which so many wanted to just give up, I volunteered to serve as the new President and work to reorganize the GCS and turn it in to a healthy organization. I assembled a team of others who had gotten disappointed and were willing to invest time and energy to make it work. Most of the new board were design educators as, I suspect, we had the most to gain from a healthy design organization in Central Oklahoma. We developed a mission, objectives and philosophies to guide us.
New objectives and philosophies
• Keep operations simple, do not overburden anyone.
• Do these 3 things for the membership at each program:
Give 'em something free at each program
• Call the events programs, not meetings (people don't really like meetings).
• Avoid committing to monthly meetings, just promote each program - membership didn't keep track, anyway.
• Don't strive for a yearly calendar - provide programs as available.
• Encourage presenters to avoid just showing their work, anything that one could read in CA magazine
• Each program should have a theme, topic, or lesson that is impactful and inspirational, and the membership should walk out with something in their hand to convey tangible value.
• Programs don't always have to be national; local/regional speaker logistics are less expensive.
• Promote the programs with one-color post cards. Donated design and printing often resulted in late announcements - so they were useless, negative even.
• Obtain corporate sponsorships to help defray operating costs.
The Graphic Communication Society is a forum for exchanging ideas and skills to:
• Enhance and encourage the member's growth as a visual communicator.
• Educate the Central Oklahoman about the impact of visual communication in society.
• Provide opportunities for socializing and networking.
• Raise the quality standard of design in Central Oklahoma.
• Impactful programs See list below
• The GCS BlackBook
A valuable resource with listings of Central Oklahoma designers,
agencies, printers, photographers, and suppliers.
• Design magazines
Art & Design News
Graphic Design: USA
• The GCS Cafe
Networking and socializing with food and drink in the City Arts Center Gallery.
Posters by presenters
Triangle A&E literature and coupons
Internet and Web info handouts
• OK Illustrators: Tim Jessell, Cameron Eagle, Mike Wimmer
• Michael Manwaring, designer, San Francisco
• McRay Magleby, designer, educator, Utah
• Broadcast Graphics: Brian Hall, OKC Channel 4
• Neil Powell, designer, Duffy Design, Minneapolis
• Rick Valicenti, designer, Chicago
• Bill Dawson, Video Graphics, Los Angeles
• Cameron Eagle, Pepsi Super Bowl campaign
• Technology at Triangle A&E: demos and vendors
• David Sterling, designer, WorldStudio, New York City
• Design by Objectives: Joseph Essex, SX2, Chicago
• Where having fun isn't just for kids: Bill Gardner, designer, Wichita
• The Internet & Visual Communications, presenters & demos
• Communication Graphics, national AIGA gallery exhibit
• Market to Market: Jim Starr & Les Kerr, designers, Dallas
Officers and volunteers
Carey & David Hissey
• City Arts Center
• Consolidate Business Supply
• Graphic Arts Prepress Lab
• ImageLab, BMI
• KFOR-TV, Channel 4
• Order-Matic Digital Imaging
• Semco Color Press
• Superior Graphics
• Triangle A&E
$40 Professionals (raised to $45)
$20 Students (to $25)
I served as President for three years. The excitement of the new GCS within the design community led to discussions on the viability of creating an Oklahoma chapter of the AIGA, the national organization for graphic design. While there were some disagreement (primarily over the higher costs of the AIGA membership), enough were excited about the opportunity to raise the stature of design in Oklahoma by joining a national organization. Assessment and development meetings were held during the summer of 1996 and the new AIGA Oklahoma began operating that fall.
Map to AIGA event location
Handouts of info
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