Doing things differently – normally

The European Illustrators Forum (EIF) Board met this week. The AOI is privileged to be the President of this network of illustration organisations spanning Europe and it’s meetings are always a real pleasure.

EIF’s strength is it’s diversity. EIF was established in 2003, (with AOI as a founding member), to enable us to champion the rights of illustrators, share learnings and support illustrators across Europe. Some member organisations are entirely voluntary with less than 100 members, others are much larger, speaking for design as well as illustration.

During the pandemic we have been sharing experiences, resources and initiatives; trying to spend less time reinventing wheels and more time rolling them. Each organisation has supported their membership in the best way that they can, be that online events, crisis funds or government advocacy.

What struck me from the last meeting was all the good things that have come from re-thinking how we deliver our services. Kuvittajat in Finland spoke of record levels of sales for an online exhibition, Grafill in Noway had a massive social event complete with DJ and after party (jealous), Germany’s IO are looking at an online meeting place during Frankfurt Book Fair meaning we can meet, share and learn, without the travel cost.

Innovation takes energy and resource, and I definitely do not want to have to repeat the pivot that we all had to do in March. But I do want to keep the refreshment that it has brought. I love that our events can reach a far wider audience, that we have questioned how we work day to day, and interrogated what, at the very core, is the most important service we can offer members.

As we start to move into a period of reflection on the sharpest point of the crisis I hope we can retain this ability to do things differently – normally. This learning is my silver lining.

The agility, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that we all deployed early on, in our own businesses and lives, is what will help us navigate the pandemic’s long tail.

What we have seen from our own members, EIF members and thier illustrators is inspiring. You will see it in your own work and in your peers’. It’s all too easy to move on to the next challenge, but before we do, take a moment to reflect. From the confusion of the last three months, what will you take forward? What is your silver lining?

Ren Renwick, CEO, AOI

(image: Cachetejack)


3rd July 2020
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