It’s been fifteen years since the AS Publicity Center sprang, Athena-style into existence, so I sat down with Jeff Bates, the Publicity Center Coordinator and so-called man behind the curtain, to get the fat and the skinny on the PC’s decaquinquennial anniversary.
AS Review: Tell me, what happened fifteen years ago to bring about the Publicity Center?
Jeffrey Grout Bates: The PC came together out of a need for all the offices to have access to high quality graphic design. Before the PC was formed in 1991, AS Productions employed a group five graphic artists, but other, smaller offices couldn’t afford to hire separate graphic designers. In 1989 I was the graphic design coordinator for ASP, much like the graphic design coordinator that we have in the PC now. The AS eventually ended upapproving a proposal to bring the print shop, the ASP graphic designers, and the AS Public information office (where the AS Review came from) together in one centralized facility.
ASR: And what was your role in all of this madness?
JGB: A proposal for the PC had been written and brought to the AS Board in 1990. In 1991 I finalized that proposal and brought it back to the AS Board. I’ve been the coordinator since the creation of the PC, fifteen years ago.
ASR: Wow. Being here so long, that must be weird.
JGB: It is. It really garners me some split responses. Some people think that it’s really cool, and some people look at me funny, they say, “Fifteen years? I’ve had two careers in that time.”
ASR: So, what’s kept you here for so long?
JGB: The people. I truly believe that I get to work with some of the most interesting, most creative people on campus. Also, the Viking Union staff, the people who work here full time. Working here is absolutely a blast.
ASR: What’s changed in fifteen years?
JGB: Oh, wow, a lot. In fifteen years we’ve seen the end of the print shop and in-house offset printing; the expansion of the AS review, which, before the Publicity Center was formed, was a much less popular newspaper that served mostly as propaganda; a complete changeover to computers; the end of video editing, mostly due to AS organizations like KVIK; we’re about to go into our second renovation; constantly improving departmental relationships and academic growth, in the beginning we weren’t considered very seriously academically, but now professors in graphic design regularly send students our way, encouraging them to apply and recognizing us as a great place for students to get experience; a dramatic increase of applicants; and CD and DVD duplication. The biggest change, I think, has been in respect to the internet. The webmaster position is new, obviously, since the PC has been founded.
ASR: What’s stayed the same?
JGB: Me. Really, the spark of the student is something that’s always there. No matter what technologies we add, creativity is always the most interesting thing you’ll find around the PC. Also, of course, change is a constant around here.
ASR: And the next fifteen years? What about them?
JGB: In the next fifteen years I think that we’ll see digital displays throughout the university. Also, I think that we’ll see the web people playing an increasing role as people expect and demand immediate and accurate information. And, I think we’ll see more repurposing of art within the mediums. The graphic designers, the AS Review, the web people; I think that everyone will begin to work together even more than they do now. Students are also consistently changing the meaning of their jobs, like Phil, our webmaster, who has taught me, I think, what a webmaster can really be. He has totally redefined that position. The greatest changes, though, I think are unpredictable.
ASR: What are some of the things students should think while they peruse the exhibit?
JGB: Aside from the technical aspects to all the posters – the design, the method of printing – it’s fun to see the topics that the AS held. There are four Death Cab For Cutie posters, in one they were the first opening band. Likewise, there are three posters for The Presidents of the United States of America in one year. It shows their transition from an opening band to a headliner.
ASR: Do you have any favorites?
JGB: I have lots of favorites; the Screaming Trees poster from 1992, the Saul Williams poster, Janet Baker’s work – she did a lot of hand made work and hand cut posters. I have a lot of favorites. I see these posters and my memories are colored by the people who made them.