The last few weeks have been chaotic to say the least - moving TinyOffice from one factory to another has been a nightmare. Yesterday I finally got to set up my computer in my new office and do some work for The Design Dept. I’d been feeling pretty disconnected from my design work both physically (not having an office) and emotionally (being so exhausted from moving factories there was no creative juice left!).

A few weeks ago in a rather uninspiring moment a friend tagged me in an AGDA instagram post advertising that AGDA VIC were looking for 2021 Council applicants. I follow AGDA and had seen the ad already but had never really considered that I was an important enough designer to be part of Australia's largest representative association of professional communication designers.

AGDA was founded in June 1988 by five Melbourne designers. Within 10 years they had 1000 members from the creative, visual communication, applied design and technology sectors. The underlying motive of AGDA has always been to advance the profession through an interrelated program of state, national and international activities in education, advocacy and professional development. 

The AGDA Awards showcase the best and freshest design Australia has on offer. Amongst other things the awards include the best emerging designer of the year and studio of the year. If you ever need a spot of inspiration I recommend having a look through the previous years winners. 

In 2021 AGDA has over 3000 members and the programs and the support they have on offer is pretty incredible. They have a really strong mentoring program and provide stacks of resources on best practices for studios and individuals alike. There are a set of principles they adhere to which all hit the mark with me, a few examples are ‘Pay your Interns’, ‘Ditch the Pitch’ and ‘Shine the Light’, about inclusivity regardless of biological or cultural background.

Needless to say AGDA is a pretty big deal in the design community. You have to pay to be a professional member with students and graduates getting a discounted joining fee. It’s a great resource for businesses and people requiring a design professional as all AGDA members get a profile page where they can introduce themselves and their expertises. They also have a great article on how to choose the right designer which is super helpful if you're engaging with a designer for the first time.

So, back to my slump in creativity. I didn’t have an office, I’m in the middle of some pretty drawn out contract negotiations that are stressing me out and I’m almost constantly covered in sawdust. It was at that moment that I sent AGDA Vic an email introducing myself. 

Much like this blog, it was pretty frank. 

I wasn't even a member! Not because I didn’t want to be but because I’d never had the extra cash for the membership fee. Their response was surprising when they asked if I’d like to fill out an application. Again, I did. This time they needed to know a bit more about me… The role will require a couple of hours of unpaid work a week - do you think you can realistically fit it in? My response was that I had one kid in daycare and my son just started school - I feel like I have more time now than I have had in the last 5 years! When they asked about what AGDA does for its members, I had to own up and say I had just become a member - that day - because you couldn’t apply for the role if you weren’t a member!

That was last week and I fired off my response not putting too much weight into the response. If anything I had finally become a member of AGDA which is something I’ve been meaning to do.

On Wednesday this week I got the response from AGDA, when it landed in my inbox I was absolutely sure that it was going to say “Thanks for trying Jess, but we have people who have been members for 5+ years who would be better suited”. Instead the email read...

“We would like to ask you if you would be interested to fill our secretary role — would that suit you?

Thinking you would be an excellent fit and sound quite organised. How would you feel?”

Shit yes! 

How terribly exciting. I had to read the email several times just to make sure that I had read it correctly. I was so sure it would come to nothing that the information I was reading didn’t match what my brain was expecting to read! Obviously I replied straight away saying I would love to be part of the council and looked forward to meeting everyone! I have no idea what my council secretarial skills will be like, having never done the job before. I hope I didn’t oversell myself in my application when I wrote that my friends used to call me the PA because I was the organized one who knew what times the gigs were on and where the parties were at. 

From a professional point of view this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m literally going into the heart of the design industry. The point of the Bulletin Board has been to articulate what I’ve been learning about business and design in the hope that it will resonate with others. And I just hit the mother load. I’m extremely grateful for the chance to show off my organisational skills and engage with new and exciting members of the design community.

What a marvellous opportunity and what a strange turn of events - one of my most uninspiring moments turns into a professional pivot point! Goes to show that showing up everyday, regardless of how motivated you feel, is how shit gets done. 

Thanks for your time today! If you’d like the Bulletin Board to be sent directly to your inbox ready for friday lunchtime reading, please use the sign up form below.

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