This year, ARCADE is celebrating its 35th anniversary—that’s 35 years of dialogue on design.
ARCADE is going strong, but it’s no secret: it’s rough out there for arts nonprofits, and it’s not any easier for small publications. From its inception, ARCADE has been a labor of love; our magazine and programs are created through the myriad, generous efforts of our community of designers and design enthusiasts. Our inspired writers, designers, editors, speakers, readers, event attendees, volunteers, and donors make each ARCADE issue, event, and blog post possible.
Below is a story we ran in celebration of another milestone—our 25th anniversary 10 years ago. Victoria Reed, a long-time ARCADE supporter and former managing editor, reflects on the organization’s early years. Each new issue wasn’t a given, and Victoria shares how she worked to revive the publication, launching it on the path it continues on to this day.
ARCADE often had periods when it exhibited a certain ... irregularity. I had been a subscriber for some years, even a one-time contributor. To me ARCADE was an infusion of real-time spirit-of-place, like an archeological slice of the Seattle design “mind” that happily came in the mail every ... once in a while. I looked forward to it, and like a lot of people, had certain issues stashed away as examples of can’t-get-that-anywhere-else. Then, one day, there were no more. And when, after a time, there really were no more, I picked up the last issue, volume 12, number 3 (Spring 1994)—a beautiful, black and white portfolio-sized magazine put together by Ted Mader and Brian Pelton Johnson, a graphic artist and architect, respectively—and headed for Mader’s office to see if there was any way to get it going again.
Why me—the non-architect, non-journalist, architectural groupie? There is one easy answer: there was nobody else. I had an informal two-pronged Plan. One prong was Ted Mader, who for several years had generously given space, advice and talent to ARCADE. I was hoping he could continue to help. And the other prong, although she didn’t know it, was Vanessa Greaves (our recent AIA president Peter Greaves’s wife) who had been volunteering with others, like Sian Roberts and Scott Wolf, trying to keep the magazine alive. Vanessa had worked in Los Angeles on the West Coast edition of W Magazine in marketing and advertising. With her help and with guest editors for each issue, I thought we could keep the magazine going until it could right itself and start flying again. Ted Mader said yes; my lunch with Vanessa was not as fortuitous. Understandably, she did not want to take on a time-consuming, uphill volunteer project. She looked at the paper fortune that had come in her fortune cookie and handed it to me saying, “Here, I think this one is yours.” It read: “Be realistic; expect a miracle.” I guess the rest is history.
The existence of ARCADE has often reminded me of what they say about democracy—as a practical matter it shouldn’t work, but because of the people who hold the same idea, the same value, the same commitment ... it does. When we started up in 1996 we benefited from the advice and the communal zeitgeist of the people who had carried the magazine before. Their inspiration kept us trying to do better—the spirit they had given the magazine attracted other kindred spirits. But for me, the best example of describing what the magazine means, what it is, came from comments sent to me by Rebecca Barnes, a former editor, as I started up the project. She said: “Plant a seed or two and nourish it and see what grows. Stay open and expect and look forward to change and development. Leave room for lots of unknown participants to join in and take the team to uncharted and stimulating places. Don’t compete with existing or past journals; give it its own head and ride it.”
She also said, and I join her in this wish: “Good luck.”
This article first ran in ARCADE issue 25.2, winter 2006.