Stendhal Syndrome

12 Jun

I just got back from the AIGA Leadership Retreat in Portland Oregon. That is, I got back several days ago but am still waiting for my checked brain to come around the carousel. Do not board several planes and elevators with a head cold unless you want permanently alter the function of said head.

I am a fairly new member on the board of AIGA – which is The Professional Association for Design, not the American Institute of Graphic Artists (because acronyms are no longer acronyms, unless they’re self-recursive acronyms which are some of my favorite things on this vexing planet). Being thrown into a three day experience with 250 smart, competent, outgoing, eloquent and markedly more experienced board members was overwhelming for sure. The combined stimuli of these great people, the plethora of AIGA programs I was introduced to and my first-ever exploration of Portland was enough to inspire a sort of paralysis. Too much awesome to choose from.

Lest I overdo this entry, become a premature AIGA evangelist, or reveal too much about what happened at The Silverado on Thursday night, here’s a simple list of links to things I’ve just become aware of and think you ought be aware of too.

Some inspiring AIGA programs:

Youth Design, born in Boston and spread to Denver and Providence

Compostmodern: the intersection of sustainability and design


And more sustainability and design from AIGA HQ

The history of graphic design in New Orleans

…And the new book Signs of New Orleans


Some things about Portland:

There is this sign.

There is an establishment called the Doug Fir, complete with a mounted moose head made of glass, cruelty-free and sparkly, in which I had a lovely conversation with musician and Schwa co-minister Tom Filepp and apparently just missed meeting a local bicycle building hero. Bah.


There is a Dinerant—presumably the marriage of a diner and a restaurant, which are already pretty similar but whatever—where one can enjoy an amazing salad in the cool embrace of a really well designed venue.


There is a great establishment called P’ear that does art and advocacy work with homeless youth, and that graciously opened its gallery for us to gather and party in.

There are too many donuts, to my mind.

Also I sent 742 text messages in the time I was in PDX. I’m at a loss to explain this complete seizure of textitude, other than to say that the level of input I was receiving on my trip had to find release in a proportionate amount of output. I hope that this output instinct can be translated into a similarly productive season of design, art and work.

I also hope that my text plan is really unlimited.


2 Responses to “Stendhal Syndrome”


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