• Annual Report 2012

    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 AIGA.org, 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.
    Buzz 75x75
    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.
    Chicago ikit 75x75
    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.
    Leadership Retreat 2012 75x75
    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.
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    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.
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    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

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    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

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    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 AIGA.org.
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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.
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    AIGA.org 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.
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    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 75 President
    Doug Powell
    Schwartz Powell
    AIGA Minnesota
    Darralyn Rieth Secretary/Treasurer
    Darralyn Rieth

    AIGA Philadelphia
    Ric Grefe 75 Executive director
    Richard Grefé
    New York, NY 
    Kim Baer thumb 75x75 Kim Baer
    AIGA Los Angeles
    Andrew Blauvelt Andrew Blauvelt
    Walker Art Center
    AIGA Minnesota
    Ethan_Bodnar_BW_75x75 Ethan Bodnar
    AIGA New York
    Gaby Brink Gaby Brink
    AIGA San Francisco
    Robert Calvano Robert Calvano
    AIGA New York
    Allan Chochinov Allan Chochinov
    AIGA New York
    Drew Davies Drew Davies
    Oxide Design Co.
    AIGA Nebraska
    Phil Hamlett Phil Hamlett
    Academy of Art University
    AIGA San Francisco 
    Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt
    Kuhlmann Leavitt Inc.
    AIGA St. Louis
    Su Mathews Su Mathews
    AIGA New York
    Susana Rodríguez de Tembleque Susana Rodríguez de Tembleque
    AIGA San Francisco 
    Nathan Shedroff   Nathan Shedroff
    California College of the Arts
    AIGA San Francisco 
    Robin Tooms Robin Tooms
    AIGA Houston
    Dawn Zidonis Presidents 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.

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    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.

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    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
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