Annual Report 2012

Filed Under: About AIGA , governance

This year was an important year in the transformation of AIGA into an association that best serves a rapidly changing profession as it enters its second century. After extensive consultation with members, chapter leaders and national board members, AIGA has sought to provide greater engagement among members in documenting, commenting on and validating great design; it has also focused on promoting the process of design over the artifacts created. A new membership fee structure was introduced to make participation more accessible and inclusive; professional development activities have been increased through a range of webcasts and smaller conferences; and systems have been introduced to assist chapters in playing the most important institutional role in supporting members.

This report covers national activities; AIGA chapters collectively offer an additional 1,000 programs per year in local communities, including competitions and regional events such as Design Camp, held by AIGA Minnesota; Design Ranch, held by AIGA Austin; the In Control Conference, held by AIGA Orlando; the Inside Job Conference, held by AIGA Houston; Into the Woods, held by AIGA Seattle; and the Y Conference, held by AIGA San Diego.

Who we are and what we do

Founded in 1914 as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, AIGA remains the oldest and largest professional membership organization for design and is now known simply as “AIGA, the professional association for design.”

A vision for AIGA

AIGA brings design to the world, and the world to designers. As the profession’s largest community, we advance design as a respected craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. From content that defines the global practice to events that connect and catalyze, we work to enhance the value and deepen the impact of design on business, society and our collective future.

The mission of AIGA

AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force. As the largest community of design advocates, we bring together practitioners, enthusiasts and patrons to amplify the voice of design and create the vision for a collective future. We define global standards and ethical practices, guide design education, inspire designers and the public, enhance professional development, and make powerful tools and resources accessible to all.

Who are we?

AIGA is a global community of design advocates and practitioners.

What does AIGA do?

AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage and vital cultural force by connecting practitioners, enthusiasts and patrons through regional, national and global events and by creating and curating content that:

AIGA had 67 chapters as of December 31, 2012; one chapter was added during the course of the year: AIGA Triad North Carolina. Chapters serve as AIGA’s most direct connection with members and are led by passionate, dedicated volunteers.

National programs and initiatives

Serving members and strengthening chapters

New membership 2012 75x75
A new membership structure was introduced in August 2012, in order to achieve a more open and inclusive community with a shared interest in design. The new model is intended to make membership accessible to everyone and provides recognition to those supporting AIGA at the highest levels.
Member profile 75x75
Enhanced member profiles were launched on, allowing members to add a portrait, biography, portfolio and links to increase their visibility and networking opportunities. An upgraded version of the AIGA Designer Directory makes it easier for designers, employers and potential clients to find an AIGA member by name, location or area of practice.
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Additional resources for emerging designers, including The Buzz email newsletter and a new student resources section, were created to help students and recent graduates learn how to navigate the ins and outs of working as a professional designer.
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As part of an increased focus on supporting chapters, AIGA rolled out new systems to empower chapters in serving members, including an iKit website system, event registration system and email marketing platform.
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Go! AIGA Leadership Retreat” was held May 31–June 2, 2012 in Salt Lake City. All 66 AIGA chapters sent board representatives to the annual retreat for three days devoted to sharing success stories and practices, inspiring each other and collaborating on shared initiatives. AIGA uses the retreat to strengthen the capacity of chapters to serve members effectively.

Providing resources to support professional development

Survey of Design Salaries 75px
The AIGA|Aquent Survey of Design Salaries is the most comprehensive annual survey of compensation data for the U.S. communication design profession. The 2012 survey—commissioned by AIGA with the support of Aquent, AIGA’s official sponsor for professional development—included responses from more than 8,000 design professionals and an exclusive salary calculator for AIGA members.
INitiative 75px
AIGA and The Creative Group (TCG) continued support of “INitiative: INsights to help INhouse design teams thrive,” a nationwide program that provides inspiration, advice and insights from in-house design leaders. A quarterly newsletter, INform, was introduced in December 2011.
AIGA Yale-blue logo 75x75
AIGA’s “Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders” program was held July 22–27, 2012 at the Yale School of Management. AIGA offers this graduate business education program for creative professionals with world renowned Yale professors to provide a deep understanding of how C-level executives see problems and approach decisions.
SVA Designathon workshop 150
Good Leadership: Social Innovation, Leadership and Entrepreneurship for Designers” was held July 19–20, 2012 in New York. This workshop on corporate social responsibility, leadership, organizational transformation and design strategy helped participants recognize new opportunities and increase their effectiveness.
Geographics 75
Geographics,” the 2012 AIGA Design Educators Conference, was held in December in Honolulu by the Design Educators Community and offered the chance to learn about the design projects, programs and research that a global body of educators are implementing within transnational contexts. The conference featured two days of papers and presentations that addressed the dynamics of collaboration between educators and students living in different parts of the world.

Introducing new webinars

Breakthroughs 75px
The second Breakthroughs: Where Inspiration and Technology Meet webinar series, developed by Adobe and AIGA, focused on designing for mobile. In six online sessions exclusive to AIGA members, participants explored how today’s studios are creating multi-platform experiences and learned more about the tools used to build them.
Ask Aquent 75
AIGA and Aquent hosted the “Ask Aquent” series of Q&A sessions with career experts. Each month, Aquent recruiters led a live online 45-minute session to help respond to members’ most pressing career-related questions.
Industry Insights
In the “Industry Insights” webinar series, supported by Aquent, host Alissa Walker interviewed industry experts in six rapidly growing sectors: consumer packaged goods, energy, finance, health care, media/entertainment and technology. These sessions gave members access to the best practices and fresh ideas of design leaders who are achieving results for their companies.
Insights icon 75
“AIGA Insight” webcasts present issues of importance to designers and to the relevance to the creative mind. Sessions on design education, AIGA’s history, Design for Good, Design for Democracy and The Living Principles provided an opportunity to learn more about AIGA activities, ask questions and discuss opportunities.
voices icon 75
“AIGA Voices” webcasts feature influential designers, including AIGA national board members, speaking about a wide range of topics. These sessions offer the kind of diverse and stimulating presentations associated with AIGA conferences, with one key difference—an opportunity for participants to ask questions and chat with the presenters.
Open icon 75
“Open AIGA” is a series of webcasts that provides background on what AIGA is doing, why and how, with an opportunity for members to ask questions of AIGA management. AIGA seeks openness, transparency and engagement concerning AIGA policies and activities; everyone is welcome to attend these sessions, which are free and open to the public.

Demonstrating the value of design

Justified thumbnail
Justified: AIGA Design Competition” aimed to collect and showcase the stories behind the best design, in order to help demonstrate the collective success of the design profession. From 381 entries, a discerning group of jurors selected 18 for honors in the 2012 competition. These case studies are showcased on the AIGA site.
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The 2012 “Get Out the Vote” campaign invited AIGA members to create nonpartisan posters and videos that inspire the American public to participate in the electoral process and vote in the general election. “Get Out the Vote” helped demonstrate the value of design to the public by motivating eligible citizens to register and turn out on election day.
Field Guides 150
AIGA Design for Democracy developed a series of pocket-size handbooks called “Field Guides To Ensuring Voter Intent.” Each booklet includes researched guidelines and examples about a specific election design problem. These guides will help county election officials, designers and advocates develop better ballots, write instructions for voters, test ballots for usability and create effective poll worker materials.

Communicating the social impact of design and designers

AIGA Gain 2012 75x75
At the “Gain: AIGA Design for Social Value Conference,” held October 9–10, 2012 in San Francisco, design and social innovation leaders shared their visionary approaches to creating social value. Presenters demonstrated the broadening role design plays in institutional strategy, leadership, service, product and message, and how the creative attributes of designers provide special advantages to tackling social projects and enhancing the human experience.
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Design for Good case studies were created to help connect and amplify the pro bono efforts of designers, firms, students and chapters across the country—and in turn, inspire more involvement. By sharing case studies of success stories, designers across the country may replicate effective programs in their own communities.

Celebrating great design

Bright Lights 75px
Bright Lights: The AIGA Awards,” a memorable evening honoring AIGA Medalists Ralph Caplan, Elaine Lustig Cohen, Armin Hofmann and Robert Vogele, took place on April 19, 2012 in New York City. More than $35,000 was raised to support AIGA activities, and biographies and video profiles of each of the Medalists were produced for
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Exhibitions in AIGA’s National Design Center gallery in New York included “50 Books/50 Covers of 2010,” held December 2011–May 2012; “AIGA/NY 30th Anniversary Poster Exhibition,” held June–August 2012; “The Texas Show,” held August–September 2012; “Get Out the Vote 2012,” held October–November 2012; and “The Lustigs: A Cover Story,” held December 2012–February 2013.
Have some inspiration to share? 75px was redesigned in 2011 to better meet the objectives of representing design’s potential to inspire and improve lives, giving members a voice and creating value for business, government and society. In 2012, members contributed more content than ever before.
Design Envy 75px
The second year of Design Envy, a curated blog of design excellence, showcased picks from Jen Bilik, Rafael Esquer and Ryan Feerer, among many others. Design Envy opens up the design excellence conversation to a broader community and provides a wide variety of inspiration from across all design disciplines.

Raising awareness of design among children

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The DesignEd K12 AIGA initiative was launched to inspire and sustain design education programs for elementary, middle and high school students. The AIGA members involved in DesignEd K12 aim to instill creative confidence and a design thinking mindset at a young age through hands-on experiences in creative problem solving.


AIGA regularly addresses opportunities to position the profession, its standards and value, to business, public officials, the media, international audiences and the public. In 2012, this included working with local governments and officials on Design for Democracy and election design; working with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in developing information design standards for consumer financial reporting; challenging spec work provisions in public, nonprofit, political and commercial cases; representing the design profession among corporate CEOs and university presidents at the Competitiveness Council; working with the World Economic Forum in Davos to develop model national design policies to introduce at the United Nations; working with the State Department to launch official design trade missions abroad; and consulting with the White House about developing design summits with the top policy and communication officials of various high-visibility departments.
AIGA worked with a member task force and the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) to begin the process of developing new criteria for accrediting design programs at the post-secondary level. These proposed standards will represent a significant reorientation of design curricula to adapt to changes in the demands made on designers within the rapidly changing entrepreneurial environment. They will be voted on by national educational leaders in October 2013.


As of December 31, 2012, AIGA had 22,323 members:

  • Trustees: 7
  • Design Leaders: 57
  • Sustaining Members: 7,917
  • Supporters: 3,349
  • Contributors: 10,993


AIGA’s FY 2012 audited financial statement is available online. AIGA’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.

Sources of funds

Membership dues
Event fees
Interest and investments
Government grants
Individual donations
Competition fees
Other revenue, including Design Jobs

Uses of funds

Conferences / events
Chapter support
Web / publishing
Communications / advocacy
Fundraising / development
Competitions and exhibitions

The uses of funds reflect the allocation of staff and overhead to each function, as well as direct expenses.

How member dues are spent

In FY 2012, revenue from membership dues totaled nearly $3.2 million. In order to provide services to members, AIGA raised the balance of the $6.4 million budget from program fees, sponsorships, grants or working capital. In other words, for every dollar in membership dues received, AIGA was able to raise an additional dollar from other sources.

Membership revenues cover:

  • Expenses for supporting chapters, including reimbursements of membership revenues directly to chapters and staff support for chapter development
  • Web and publishing that support members directly
  • The membership development function, which includes processing of all membership records
  • Governance, which represents board support and legal requirements

Fundraising, development, communications, advocacy, competitions and exhibitions, and education are funded from revenues raised by AIGA from program fees and development activities.

2012 board of directors

AIGA’s board of directors is elected by the entire professional membership and plays a crucial role in determining the mission of AIGA, ensuring that the organization continues to operate in the best interest of past, present and future members.

Doug Powell 75President
Doug Powell
Schwartz Powell
AIGA Minnesota
Darralyn RiethSecretary/Treasurer
Darralyn Rieth

AIGA Philadelphia
Ric Grefe 75Executive director
Richard Grefé
New York, NY 
Kim Baer thumb 75x75Kim Baer
AIGA Los Angeles
Andrew BlauveltAndrew Blauvelt
Walker Art Center
AIGA Minnesota
Ethan_Bodnar_BW_75x75Ethan Bodnar
AIGA New York
Gaby BrinkGaby Brink
AIGA San Francisco
Robert CalvanoRobert Calvano
AIGA New York
Allan ChochinovAllan Chochinov
AIGA New York
Drew DaviesDrew Davies
Oxide Design Co.
AIGA Nebraska
Phil HamlettPhil Hamlett
Academy of Art University
AIGA San Francisco 
Deanna Kuhlmann-LeavittDeanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt
Kuhlmann Leavitt Inc.
AIGA St. Louis
Su MathewsSu Mathews
AIGA New York
Susana Rodríguez de TemblequeSusana Rodríguez de Tembleque
AIGA San Francisco 
Nathan Shedroff  Nathan Shedroff
California College of the Arts
AIGA San Francisco 
Robin ToomsRobin Tooms
AIGA Houston
Dawn ZidonisPresidents council chair
Dawn Zidonis

AIGA San Francisco 



2012 sponsors

AIGA is grateful to the following sponsors who actively support AIGA and its activities. In addition, we are thankful for the enabling support provided by our alliance partners.

Official AIGA sponsors

AIGA’s official sponsors—Adobe, Aquent and Shutterstock—make significant investments in AIGA, and in turn support activities we would not be able to pursue alone. Their support is critical to AIGA's full range of programs each year and represent a substantial and sustained investment in the future of design and the design profession.

Adobe 65px


As AIGA’s Official AIGA Sponsor for Design Solutions, Adobe creates innovative programs that give members a voice and engage the creative community in dialogues about design and technology.

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Aquent is the Official AIGA Sponsor for Professional Development, serving as a source for creative and design talent as well as providing access to great career opportunities for AIGA members nationwide.

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AIGA’s Official Sponsor for Creative Inspiration, Shutterstock, offers members a comprehensive library of more than 15 million stock photographs and vector illustrations.

Presenting sponsors

Presenting sponsors play a critical role by investing in a single national AIGA event or initiative that AIGA develops for its members. Frequently, these activities would not be possible without the support of the presenting sponsor.

Blurb 75


Blurb, the easy-to-use, on-demand publishing platform, is the Presenting Sponsor of 50 Books/50 Covers—and offers AIGA members a discount to make their own books.

PepsiCo Nutrition Ventures

PepsiCo Nutrition Ventures

PepsiCo Nutrition Ventures develops new solutions that target the special nutritional needs of individuals with diverse health and nutrition challenges. In summer and fall of 2012, PepsiCo Nutrition Ventures hosted three Design for Good Summits with AIGA and brought together design professionals and civic leaders to develop innovative solutions to community-specific problems related to dietary guidance and lifestyle management.

The Creative Group July 2012

The Creative Group

The Creative Group (TCG)—a leader in matching creative talent with the best companies—is the Presenting Sponsor of INitiative, a new AIGA national program that provides knowledge and tools to help in-house designers make a greater impact at their companies, evolve professionally and connect with a broader network of peers.

Program and event sponsors

Program and event sponsors contribute to the resources necessary for AIGA to provide specific individual programs and events to its members, to the broader design community or to the public.

Academy of Art University
AdamsMorioka, Inc.
Core 77
Herman Miller
Hoefler Frere-Jones
Johnson & Johnson
Mohawk Fine Papers
Monotype Imaging
Neenah Paper
PepsiCo Nutrition Ventures
Sappi Fine Paper
The Creative Group
Tiffany & Co.
VSA Partners


Herman Miller
Sierra Signs
VGS, Visual Graphic Systems


Mohawk Fine Papers
Neenah Paper
Reich Paper
Sappi Fine Paper


American Printing Co.
MET Fine Printers
O’Neil Printing
Sandy Alexander




Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
Worldstudio Foundation


National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs