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A professional designer adheres to principles of integrity that
demonstrate respect for the profession, for colleagues, for
clients, for audiences or consumers, and for society as a
These standards define the expectations of a professional
designer and represent the distinction of an AIGA member in the
practice of design. AIGA members at the Supporter level and above who have agreed to adhere to these standards are denoted in the Designer
Directory by an AIGA logo.
1.1 A professional designer shall acquaint himself or herself
with a client's business and design standards and shall act in the
client's best interest within the limits of professional
1.2 A professional designer shall not work simultaneously on
assignments that create a conflict of interest without agreement of
the clients or employers concerned, except in specific cases where
it is the convention of a particular trade for a designer to work
at the same time for various competitors.
1.3 A professional designer shall treat all work in progress
prior to the completion of a project and all knowledge of a
client's intentions, production methods and business organization
as confidential and shall not divulge such information in any
manner whatsoever without the consent of the client. It is the
designer's responsibility to ensure that all staff members act
1.4 A professional designer who accepts instructions from a
client or employer that involve violation of the designer's ethical
standards should be corrected by the designer, or the designer
should refuse the assignment.
2.1 Designers in pursuit of business opportunities should
support fair and open competition.
2.2 A professional designer shall not knowingly accept any
professional assignment on which another designer has been or is
working without notifying the other designer or until he or she is
satisfied that any previous appointments have been properly
terminated and that all materials relevant to the continuation of
the project are the clear property of the client.
2.3 A professional designer must not attempt, directly or
indirectly, to supplant or compete with another designer by means
of unethical inducements.
2.4 A professional designer shall be objective and balanced in
criticizing another designer's work and shall not denigrate the
work or reputation of a fellow designer.
2.5 A professional designer shall not accept instructions from a
client that involve infringement of another person's property
rights without permission, or consciously act in any manner
involving any such infringement.
2.6 A professional designer working in a country other than his
or her own shall observe the relevant Code of Conduct of the
national society concerned.
3.1 A professional designer shall work only for a fee, a
royalty, salary or other agreed-upon form of compensation. A
professional designer shall not retain any kickbacks, hidden
discounts, commission, allowances or payment in kind from
contractors or suppliers. Clients should be made aware of
3.2 A reasonable handling and administration charge may be
added, with the knowledge and understanding of the client, as a
percentage to all reimbursable items, billable to a client, that
pass through the designer's account.
3.3 A professional designer who has a financial interest in any
suppliers who may benefit from a recommendation made by the
designer in the course of a project will inform the client or
employer of this fact in advance of the recommendation.
3.4 A professional designer who is asked to advise on the
selection of designers or the consultants shall not base such
advice in the receipt of payment from the designer or consultants
4.1 Any self-promotion, advertising or publicity must not
contain deliberate misstatements of competence, experience or
professional capabilities. It must be fair both to clients and
4.2 A professional designer may allow a client to use his or her
name for the promotion of work designed or services provided in a
manner that is appropriate to the status of the profession.
5.1 A professional designer shall not claim sole credit for a
design on which other designers have collaborated.
5.2 When not the sole author of a design, it is incumbent upon a
professional designer to clearly identify his or her specific
responsibilities or involvement with the design. Examples of such
work may not be used for publicity, display or portfolio samples
without clear identification of precise areas of authorship.
6.1 A professional designer shall avoid projects that will
result in harm to the public.
6.2 A professional designer shall communicate the truth in all
situations and at all times; his or her work shall not make false
claims nor knowingly misinform. A professional designer shall
represent messages in a clear manner in all forms of communication
design and avoid false, misleading and deceptive promotion.
6.3 A professional designer shall respect the dignity of all
audiences and shall value individual differences even as they avoid
depicting or stereotyping people or groups of people in a negative
or dehumanizing way. A professional designer shall strive to be
sensitive to cultural values and beliefs and engages in fair and
balanced communication design that fosters and encourages mutual
7.1 A professional designer, while engaged in the practice or
instruction of design, shall not knowingly do or fail to do
anything that constitutes a deliberate or reckless disregard for
the health and safety of the communities in which he or she lives
and practices or the privacy of the individuals and businesses
therein. A professional designer shall take a responsible role in
the visual portrayal of people, the consumption of natural
resources, and the protection of animals and the environment.
7.2 A professional designer is encouraged to contribute five
percent of his or her time to projects in the public good-projects
that serve society and improve the human experience.
7.3 A professional designer shall consider environmental,
economic, social and cultural implications of his or her work and
minimize the adverse impacts.
7.4 A professional designer shall not knowingly accept
instructions from a client or employer that involve infringement of
another person's or group's human rights or property rights without
permission of such other person or group, or consciously act in any
manner involving any such infringement.
7.5 A professional designer shall not knowingly make use of
goods or services offered by manufacturers, suppliers or
contractors that are accompanied by an obligation that is
substantively detrimental to the best interests of his or her
client, society or the environment.
7.6 A professional designer shall refuse to engage in or
countenance discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age,
religion, national origin, sexual orientation or disability.
7.7 A professional designer shall strive to understand and
support the principles of free speech, freedom of assembly, and
access to an open marketplace of ideas and shall act
Adopted by the board of directors of AIGA, the professional
association for design, in 1994; amended November 2010 to include
items 7.2 and 7.3.
What designers must learn Eric Madsen, The Office of Eric Madsen
My impression after interviewing students over the years is that
there is generally very little awareness of the graphic design
profession at the high school level. It doesn't seem to have
changed much since I was in high school, but let's face it
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