Archive through January 17, 2003

Bald Condensed's picture

An interesting topic was raised yesterday on the Typophile Chat: some Latin-American users complained about the high member fees for ATypI, and asked if it would be conceivable to have cheaper fees for -in their own words- "development countries".

I think this concern is valid. Could it be possible to couple the fee (and other member fees in general) to the Gross National Income or Mean Income or whatever you call this in English? I don't mind paying more than someone from Argentina, as I probably earn more too.

Any thoughts?

jfp's picture

As I have pointed out yesterday during our discussion, we can

Ramiro Espinoza's picture

I believe that is very very tricky the situation: "Rich guy living in a poor country / Poor guy living in a rich country".

I can assure that I know almost every person developing fonts and interested in enter to ATypI in my country, Argentina (and many of the other latin american countries) and nobody is such "rich guy". Mr. Porchez... What is your source of information about the third world? The CNN channel?

I strongly believe there are a lot of worthy designers in our poor countries and a *real* international designers asociation should help to spread the information and collaboration without any boundary or limit.
With its elitistic behaviour the ATypI is loosing a lot of good designers with fresh ideas and a rich tradition in popular lettering.

Ignoring the differencies between countries is just to confirm, to afirm, to increase the gaps.

We do not want to be in the ATypI for free. But we want to pay fees in relation with the situation of our economies.
A politic of grants and voluntary work would be a great beginning.

There is a long and rich humanist tradition in the design heritage. We should act as real humanists, being generous with knowlwdge and not acting like stupid snobs.

Bald Condensed's picture

Lissenup, I'm still trying to figure out a compromise between JF's correct observation (where can this lead to indeed?) and our Latin-American friends who today are the victims of a disastrous economic situation - not wanting to exclude any other nationalities in dire straits, bien s

porky's picture

Why should I as an individual pay the same for Adobe Photoshop as General Electric? Life, sadly, isn't fair, and until something dramatic happens (probably in about 15-20 years when the oil runs out) that is unlikely to change.

What one can do is to formulate alternatives to ATypI. Perhaps by setting up a similar organisations in these "developing" areas?

Having a diverse global community of groups is often a far better approach than having one homogenised umbrella organisation anyhow, and would allow each group to reflect and serve the needs of its members more effectively.

I see no reason why ATypI could not work with such local organisations and form affiliations, maybe working jointly on some projects, thus fullfilling its remit to internationalism, helping to share information and furthering our noble art.

Just a thought.

Bald Condensed's picture

And BTW don't forget that in a lot of economies in difficulties the barter system proves to be an efficient way of keeping things going. So the idea of voluntary work is really worth pursuing, as long as there's a system to it so people know what they can expect in return. (If they want to, of course. People should still be prepared to stick their neck out expecting nothing in return if they can afford it.)

Bald Condensed's picture

Spot on as always, David.

sebahorvath's picture

I agree with Yves Peters.
We can be a community paying fees according to our earnings.
Our salaries are 3.5 times lower than internationals, but I forgot that for those kind of issues globalization does not apply...
We can learn a lot from other countries, other people and other very good designers.

Perhaps some day we can all have the same rights.

Bye bye

Sebastian Horvath
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Bald Condensed's picture

100 US$? Ouch. Now I understand.

Say, Ramiro, Elsebra, Sebastian, just for the sake of argument, how much can you realistically afford or are you prepared to pay? I know of the current economic climate in your part of the world, but not enough to make any kind of estimate.

Bald Condensed's picture


John Hudson's picture

A couple of things need to be noted. The financial model under which ATypI operates is not all that different from that under which our Argentinian friends find themselves. It is not a wealthy association: it struggles to make sure that costs are covered from one year to another, very rarely manages to produce a surplus, is almost entirely driven by volunteer efforts. Membership fees are basically the only way in which the association can pay for its activities between annual conferences. Personally, I think it will be necessary for membership fees to be increased in order to improve the operational effectiveness of the association.

At the same time, I would love to be able to make the benefits of membership available to more people. One option that springs to mind (and which David Earls has also raised) is to develop affiliate relations with sister organisations (either national or regional) that would provide a means for more regular exchange of information between ATypI and type professionals who are not members but who may belong to sister organisations. So, for example, an Argentinian type association with its own membership rules and fees, might enter into such a relationship with ATypI, so that there would be a point of contact between Argentinian designers and ATypI. We would need to explore the ways in which this relationship could be mutually exploited, to ensure that members of both organisations benefit. It would also be necessary to establish guidelines for organisation structures, goals and activities to ensure that relations are only established with organisations that share ATypI's goals. If people think this is worth exploring, I could take the question to the ATypI board.

It would be interesting to know what kind of type or design associations exist in Argentina, as an example case.

Ramiro Espinoza's picture


In my opinion, to set an organization for members of the third world (our counties are not in "develope", indeed) would be the verification that the ATypI is not able to understand what happend here (or really don't care about it).

Different professional organizations for both rich and poor countries is in my opinion is too similar to some kind of segregation.

One of the points of professional joins is to help each others. Obviously it's harder to help members with problems, but this is what happend in the real world, don't it?

Solidarity don't seem to be too high in the ratings lately...

hrant's picture

> Could it be possible to couple the fee
> ... to the Gross National Income or ....

I don't see why not. Sure, it's not perfect, but it would work 90%. And it's not like giving students a price-break is fool-proof: anywhere in the world, it's very easy to fake being a student.

BTW, ATypI isn't as homogenous itself as it seems from the outside.


hrant's picture

Of course I (and I'm sure Yves) meant per capita. You'd use the average individual per-capita income of the home country, or maybe a cost-of-living index. Anyway, I'm no economist, I just think it's not very hard to calculate a fair reduction ratio, and implement it. It would make ATypI a richer organization not just "culturally", but in fact financially as well.


hrant's picture

Here's what you do: write a letter (like a petition), get signatures, as well as more extensive endorsements from prominent ATypI members who agree with you (like some of the presenters at the tipoGrafica conference in November of 2001), and send it to ATypI headquarters. Keep the organizing group small, use a Typophile SIG (maybe one public and another private) to coordinate, agree on a simple "solution", and if you can do it under the auspices of your ADG or something, better. Good luck.


Ramiro Espinoza's picture

I insist: The point is not to set another organization. We want a different fee politic for our poor countries.

What you John and David are saying is: "We can't admit poor persons in our club. Come on, set up another club for persons like you. May be (if we consider it interesting and profitable) we'll have some relationship".

Don't worry about our organizations, make yours "international" one truly democratic.



jfp's picture

"ATypI headquarters" is in fact the small home of Sharon Irving, the only people paid to run secretariat. All the rest paid (me and all the board) and do voluntary work along the year.

Stop to dream about ATypI, who is perhaps international, but very small in fact.

I have really nothing against bad economical situation at all, I help people everyday with my own possibilities at my own level.

David Earls proposal is good one. Follow his idea if ATypI, TDC and others don't fit to you.

I repeat myself perhaps, but John Hudson who start to organise Vancouver is not paid at all for all his coming huge work, same for my 2 days a week during a year to organise ATypI in Lyon in 97-98. Stop to dream thanks a lot.

Fiction is your dreams, reality is that ATypI have no resources to compensate various economical situation, from countries to people.

Does Adobe and MS and Apple currently make their prices different regarding each countries and people?

hrant's picture

> ATypI have no resources to compensate various economical situation

But don't you see that making ATypI membership affordable for those who could never pay the "normal" price would inrease our income?

I would further propose that fees for affluent citizens be raised. Over here a ticket for an expired vehicle registration is $65!


Ramiro Espinoza's picture

Mr. Porchez, we know what kind of organization the ATypI is. We don't think that ATypI is huge corporation, but what you are doing is assuming the same approach of corporation such MS and Macromedia (...and here they really tolerate the domestic piracy what is a kind of understanding about the economic situation).

eikon's picture

I really don't see why ATypI should loose resources just because it has especial fees to "less rich" countries members.

Of all the benefits I can read on the ATypI website, people like me (living in Latin America) could use only the virtual ones, like the member area of the website, or the mailing list. I think there's no exceptional costs in this, for the organisation, I mean, this is not as expensive as organising a conference outside.

I'll not ask ATypI to pay me my airplane ticket to any conference, or even the fee to be there. It's just to be part (a minimal part if you prefer) of a group of people interested in typography and design, who share information and opinions about this subject.

I think a fee between US$30 and US$50, would be more attainable to us (since the regular student fee is about US$20 it's not so fictitious to think about it, isn

Bald Condensed's picture


John Hudson's picture

Ramiro writes: What you John and David are saying is: "We can't admit poor persons in our club. Come on, set up another club for persons like you. May be (if we consider it interesting and profitable) we'll have some relationship".

This is not at all what I am suggesting. I was very clear that the relationship is not between rich and poor 'clubs' but between an international association and national and regional organisations. This proposal is in no way limited to developing countries or countries in financial crisis. I think it is a model that could be usefully applied to all kinds of countries in which there are interested and committed individuals who are willing to form associations and, through those associations, interract both directly and through ATypI with associations in other countries. There are already many countries with graphic design and/or specifically typographic associations, and these can and should provide a point of contact among designers internationally. The benefit of such national associations is that they can set membership fees suitable to the internal financial situations of the countries in which they operate. Regardless of whatever steps ATypI might be able to take to make it easier for designers in all countries take part, I don't think an international association can fully take the place of local and national organisations. Elsebra mentioned some of the problems of the ADG. Is there any 'grassroots' movement to take control of the ADG, to manage it better? or perhaps to create a new association, perhaps less formally structured that can respond more creatively to the situation of designers in Argentina today?

Having said all that, I'm very happy to explore with my fellow ATypI board members ways in which the membership could be opened to our colleagues who cannot afford the current, 'one size fits all' membership fee. I do think it is important, and I would not want to deny the possibility without examining the potential impact for good or ill on the association's finances. There is no question that the impact would be for the good in all other things; this is only a practical (how do we do it?) and financial (how will it affect our income and expenses?) issue. Hrant's suggestion of indexing fees to national economic indicators, while untypical, is not a bad way for an international association to proceed, so long as the average does not represent a decline in current revenues. The fact that such economic indicators are regularly published electronically suggests that the pricing could be semi-automated and set by ATypI for each year. Obviously, the number of current, renewing and potential new members each year needs to be factored into such calculations: ten new members from the USA is going to have a very different impact on ATypI's finances than ten new members from Bangladesh.

In response to Jean-Fran

hrant's picture

> so long as the average does not represent a decline in current revenues

I think it wouldn't, for the simple reason that very few people from economically troubled regions are currently members anyway! You'd basically be adding new members, just at a lower amount of income per.

> ten new members from the USA is going to have a very different impact on ATypI's finances than ten new members from Bangladesh.

Of course you're right - and that might justify concentrating exposure efforts (like events) in affluent countries. But considering ATypI's current demographic, I would think that culturally the ten Bangladeshis would be more interesting. :-)

Anyway, it's both pleasant and very encouraging to see an open mind.


Bald Condensed's picture

I agree with Stephen: let's please not shoot the messenger here.

Just a quickie to support Hrant's theory:
A bridge was built, connecting Paradise Island to Nassau in the Bahamas. In order to recoup the construction costs and maintenance, the companies that built it decided to ask people $2 to cross the bridge from one island to the other.
After a certain amount of time, those companies notice that they're actually losing money. First they intend to close down the bridge, but instead they lower the fee to $1. Since then, the bridge is economically viable: for that amount of money, using an alternative simply is not worth it anymore.


PS You might ask yourself (and with good reason): is he on drugs? Well, I can guarantee you: I don't even drink coffe. I lock myself up for 4 hours twice a week in a rehearsal room that reeks of stale beer and armpits, though. ;)

John Hudson's picture

It would be fairest to index all membership fees to economic indicators for members' countries of residence. With access to such indicators, this is potentially easier than trying to divide the world into vaguer economic blocks. If the USA is taken as the high water mark, it is clear that the fee for members from that country would need to increase over current levels in order to maintain a balance with adjusted fees for members from other countries. Over time, the system could be finessed, but initially ATypI would need to look at it's current membership and work out a scale that produces an average fee suitable for not only maintaining but improving the operational effectiveness of the association.

Hm. This could be quite fun. I think I'll pop out and buy a copy of The Economist.

anonymous's picture

Respectable Mr Porchez:


Joe Pemberton's picture

[ Moderator comment: More information on the Association Typographique Internationale, or ATypI is available at ]

anonymous's picture

Dear Yves:
Probably 30 u$s (100 u$s before our devaluation) it's a much fair price to this lands...

Dear John Hudson:
Here in Argentina exist the "ADG", an absolutely paralysed organization which can`t, for multiple reasons, lead us, designers. One of this reasons can be economic, but an important one is a bad management. If the ADG was working properly, it would be a nice link to the ATypI and its knowledge.

Dear Hrant:
Let me see if I get what you propose.
Our National Income is more than 100 billion dollars yearly. If you set our fee coupling it with this number... We'd to pay more than many of European countries.
But we have an humongous debt which expropriate all of our resources. This is what it calls the "THIRD WORLD". Rich countries, poor people.

Regards to the three of you.


anonymous's picture

Mr Porchez

Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, Chrysler, DuPont... are capitalist "monsters" which the only purpose is make and make and make more money.
Do you think is valid to compare ATypI with this kind of corporations? Is this your explanation for the policy of the ATypI according to fees?



PS: Hrant, per c

Stephen Coles's picture

While I don't agree with everything Porchez is saying
in this thread, I think it's important to note that he's
directed the members of ATypI to this discussion and
a similar thread is underway on their own mailing
list. Thanks for alerting everyone to this important
issue, Jean-Francois. Keep the dialogue active and I'm
certain some solutions will develop.

Syndicate content Syndicate content