Annual Report 2016

Filed Under: About AIGA

After a century of service, AIGA is continuing to evolve as the leading professional organization for designers. Our members are experts in many facets of design, excelling in strategic consulting, business design strategy, creative direction, branding, visual design, information design, customer experience design, interactive and motion design, and education. 

What unifies our community is empathy for human needs, passion for being creative, and a love of design excellence. AIGA empowers both designers and the public to stay curious, seek information, and feel supported so that our members can share their work to energize brands, organizations, communities and the greater world.

How does AIGA do this? We pursue our mission by connecting design practitioners, enthusiasts, and supporters through national and regional events and initiatives. Through our 72 chapters as of April 2017, our organization engages members around:


  • Advocating for a greater understanding of the value of design and the role of designers
  • Enhancing professional development and leadership capabilities

Design Excellence

  • Defining global standards and ethical practices
  • Establishing criteria for design education
  • Awarding the AIGA Medal and preserving critically acclaimed work in the AIGA Design Archives


  • Advocating for equal and fair treatment for all designers
  • Establishing initiatives to specifically call for diversity, inclusion, and gender equity in the profession


  • Promoting design for democracy to transform apathy into civic participation
  • Creating and curating original programming to make powerful tools and resources available

You can scroll down and check out some of the great work we accomplished in fiscal year 2016 (October 1, 2015–September 30, 2016). We invite you to join us and get involved.

Focus on Design

Goal: Communicate, celebrate, and demonstrate the value of design to business, government, media, and the public

1,800 designers gathered in New Orleans, October 8–12, 2015 for the annual AIGA Design Conference. Chaired by Stefan Bucher, the event featured speakers such as Michael Bierut, Keetra Dean Dixon, Mimi Valdéz, and Ije Nwokorie as well as another installment of Command X.

5 MedalistsRuth Ansel, Richard Grefé, Maira Kalman, Gere Kavanaugh, and Corita Kent—honored at The 2016 AIGA Awards Gala with long-form biographical essays and short video profiles on each Medalist being added to the AIGA-Dress Code portfolio of designer documentaries. The 2016 Gala was streamed for the first time, inaugurating a tradition of including the public.

16 Fellows named by chapters across the country, recognizing designers who have made a significant contribution to raising the standards of excellence in practice and conduct within their local design community.

4.5 million visits to; 500,000 followers on Twitter; 80,000 fans on Facebook; 280,000 followers on Instagram; and 5,000 followers on AIGA’s newly-launched LinkedIn page.

153 design newsletters sent to AIGA members, both targeted membership blasts and all-subscriber blasts reaching sponsors, media, and non-members.

78 original articles and videos on supporting all of AIGA’s initiatives, events, and professional development, including articles from regular Design Jobs columnist Ram Castillo, INform articles interviewing the biggest players and companies from in-house design, and Design Journeys and Medalists essays elevating the lives and careers of designers shaping the profession. 38 syndicated articles on from editorial partners, members, and chapters.

2.6 million visits to Eye on Design, distributed via biweekly newsletter to 90,000 newsletter subscribers.

620 original articles on Eye on Design discussing issues facing design and designers—plus the first two videos in the Where Designers Work series.

727 posters submitted to AIGA’s Get Out The Vote campaign—a record number of participants since the inception of the program in 2000—aimed at increasing voter participation. In addition Get Out The Vote posters and videos went public, adorning bus stops, billboards, and wild postings on construction sites across America.

70 million Spanish-speaking households reached with viral Get Out The Vote video, conceived in collaboration with national board member Agustín Garza and actor James Edward Olmos. 4 major Latino television stations shared content and partnered with AIGA on the 2016 Get Out The Vote campaign.

50 key players gathered in Raleigh, North Carolina for the Design for Good focus group, created to define a strategic vision that will help the initiative support and recognize the increasing number of designers whose projects create positive social impact in communities.

7,130 selections—gifted to the Denver Art Museum as part of the largest and most comprehensive holdings of contemporary American communication design in the world—featured in a new AIGA Design Archives collection. Materials reflect major design trends as well as many of the leading design firms and individual designers within the United States from 1980–2012.

75 works added to AIGA Design Archives from case study competitions, including Making the Case 2011, Justified 2012–2014, and Cased 2015. AIGA’s case study competitions recognize creative and inspiring case studies that demonstrate the value of design in a clear, compelling, and accessible way that also serves the client’s needs.

2 online exhibitions curated with Google Arts & Culture, Google Cultural Institute. “African American Culture and History: An AIGA Design Journey” and “Get Out the Vote 2016.” The Google Cultural Institute Black History, Arts, and Culture collection includes works from 50 partners contributing more than 4,000 archived items and 80 exhibits. The AIGA partnered in the collection to celebrate African American history and culture throughout the last century of communication design by featuring African American designers as well as projects inspired by or relevant to African American history and communities. The American Democracy collection explores 2,500 artifacts from 44 institutions in more than 60 exhibits. The AIGA collection complemented live shows nationwide, organized in conjunction with the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention (Cleveland and Philadelphia, July 2016), at the 2016 AIGA Design Conference, and at AIGA chapters in other cities.

6 research guides published for AIGA Medalists, including Milton Glaser, Ivan Chermayeff and Tom Geismar, Herb Lubalin, Henry Wolf, Saul Bass, and Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Research guides aggregate resources for research, study, and inspiration from exhibitions, events, websites, online collections, audio, video, articles, and books.

1 update to the online AIGA Design Archives website. The online experience, initially developed (2005), redesigned (2010), and refreshed (2016) by Second Story Interactive Studios, features easier and deeper searches, faster results, live filtering, improved navigation.

$45,000 awarded in government grant proposals, including New York City Department of Cultural Affairs to support Eye on Design and National Endowment for the Arts, ArtWorks to support AIGA Diversity & Inclusion initiative.

Focus on Designers

Goal: Empower designers across the arc of their careers

46 participants graduated from Business Perspectives for Creative Leaders, offered by AIGA and the Yale School of Management. This program equips designers with a deep understanding of how top business executives see problems and approach decisions. Over 13 years, more than 500 designers have elevated their career journeys with Business Perspectives.

32 attendees joined us in New York for our initial launch of Creative Lab, a program designed to educate, inspire, and future-proof creative practitioners. Three daily sessions were led by D&AD award winners who brought their expertise to life through hands-on learning and immersive experiences. Topics included the business of ideas, the art of art direction, and managing creative teams.

20 Worldstudio AIGA Scholarships totalling $34,750 awarded this year to an outstanding group of applicants in five categories. The scholarships were made possible by the generous support of sponsors including the AIGA DC Continuum award, AIGA-Tomoko Miho Award, Coyne Family Foundation, and the The Martha Trevor Award.

3,318 jobs posted on AIGA Design Jobs with more than 160,000 people visiting the site. Potential employers reach a pre-qualified audience, since complete job details are available only to AIGA members.

10 women-led design firms and agencies supported the Women Lead Initiative (WLI) fundraising campaign unfolding in 2016–2017.

100 AIGA members took part in Gender Equity workshops, conducted by Dr. Leyla Acaroglu as part of her primary research into gender bias in the workplace, which resulted in the Gender Equity Toolkit.

1,000 attendees participated in a virtual Racial Justice by Design town hall from all over the nation, and 14 videos were created post-event of guest speakers, experts in community engagement, criminal justice, and police reform.

18 Diversity & Inclusion chapter events and programs held nationally.

5 initiative videos produced, including interviews with AIGA members and Diversity & Inclusion chairs Jacinda Walker and Antionette Carroll.

16 in-house articles, videos, and interviews—shared through quarterly INform newsletters—provided advice, insight, and inspiration to those interested in or currently working within in-house design departments.

3 professional development partnerships continued with Skillshare,, and Creative Live to serve thousands of designers.

Focus on members and chapters

Goal: Engage members and empower chapters to create vital communities and supportive networks

1,000 AIGA chapter events took place in more than 70 communities across the country. National staff facilitated more than 30 Adobe Connect Sessions devoted to chapter functions, training, programs, and initiatives; led more than 60 calls with chapter presidents and board members; created and updated more than 60 wiki pages with chapter resources and information; and managed a group of 626 Chapter Slack members. 7 Chapter Advisory Council members were appointed to advise chapters.

3 projects approved for AIGA Innovate grants in FY 2016, totalling: $34,500, including EntreprenU: Design Business Toolkit, AIGA Baltimore; Design Legislation Map, AIGA Baltimore; and Empowering the Underserved DesignKit, AIGA Arizona

231 chapter board members converged in Raleigh for Open: AIGA Leadership Retreat, June 9–11.

$800,000 in dues reimbursements was returned to chapters across the country to support local programming.

24,242 members belonged to AIGA as of September 30, 2016 a decrease of 12 percent compared to September 30, 2015. This shift can be attributed to the membership database transition in summer of 2016 that retired an outdated platform. The new platform will allow AIGA to better serve and meet the needs of our members in the years to come.

Focus on Organizational Viability

Goal: Ensure a well-managed, financially sound, and responsive professional organization

AIGA’s FY 2016 audited financial statement is available online. AIGA’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. Friedman LLP provided an unqualified audit of AIGA practices and finances, the highest expectation for prudent and responsible financial management.

Sources of funds

Membership dues $2,709,673 36.6%
Conferences / events $1,791,915 24.2%
Sponsorship $850,734 11.5%
Interest / investments $1,709,906 23.1%
Individual donations $61,882 0.9%
Government grants $45,000 0.6%
Design Jobs / other $239,399 3.1%
Total $7,408,509

Uses of funds

Chapter support $2,099,795
Conferences / events $1,951,128
Web / publishing $800,277
Membership $1,598,970
Fundraising / development
Communications / advocacy
Governance $265,788
Education $145,846
Total $7,408,509

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

In FY 2016, revenue from membership dues totaled nearly $2.7 million. In order to provide services to members, AIGA raised the balance of the $7.4 million budget from program fees, sponsorships, and grants. In other words, for every dollar in membership dues received, AIGA raised close to an additional dollar from other sources.

Membership revenues cover the following, including activities that would have to be undertaken individually by chapters without the benefits of scale when done centrally:

  • 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 and maintenance of all membership records
  • Governance, which represents board and management support, as well as legal requirements

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


AIGA’s board of directors is elected by members at the Sustaining, Design Leader, and Trustee level. The board 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.

Su Mathews Hale, senior partner, Lippincott

Andrew Twigg, assistant teaching professor, Carnegie Mellon University School of Design

Executive director
Julie Anixter

Deborah Adler, founder, Adler Design
Ken Carbone, co-founder, Carbone Smolan Agency
Agustín Garza, principal, Garza Group Communications
Jenny Lam, co-founder and chief design officer, Jackson Fish Market
John Luu, art director, Schulmberger
Matthew Muñoz, chief creative officer and partner, New Kind
Kevin Perry, director of talent and operations, Struck
Rukmini Ravikumar, associate dean, University of Central Oklahoma
Christopher Simmons, principal and creative director, MINE™
Brian Singer, brand design manager, Pinterest
Jill Spaeth, president and director of design, Citizen Creative
Jennifer Visocky O’Grady, professor of design, Cleveland State University
Paul Wharton, owner, WhartonWorks

Presidents council representative
Gwen O’Brien, creative director, Fairly Painless Advertising

Ex officio
Sean Adams, professor, ArtCenter College of Design

Official AIGA sponsors

AIGA’s official sponsors—Adobe and IBM—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.



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. The alliance between AIGA and Adobe is a long-term partnership dedicated to advancing design and the use of technology across creative industries, as well as understanding and highlighting the impact of design on the economy and society



IBM is honored to be the first Official AIGA Sponsor for Design Leadership. This bespoke partnership engages IBM leaders to deploy their design thinking facilitation skills and “building a smarter planet” expertise across AIGA’s national network of creative communities. The AIGA and IBM partnership has the power to advance the design profession, amplify the intrinsic value of design across sectors, and in turn reinforce IBM’s role as leader within the design industry.



AIGA’s Official Sponsor for Print Solutions

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.

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, an 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.



LG—a leader in consumer electronics, home appliances, mobile, and commercial units—is a Sponsor of two major AIGA programs: the AIGA Awards Gala and Command X at the AIGA Design Conference. This partnership underscores LG's commitment to the design industry and enables them to share innovative new technologies developed specifically for designers.

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.

Carbone Smolan Agency
Herman Miller
Johnson & Johnson
LG UltraWide Monitor Division
MIT Media Lab
Neenah Paper
Newell Rubbermaid
School of Visual Arts (SVA)
Scout Books
Siegel + Gale
Sterling Brands
Studio/lab and UIC School of Design
The Creative Group
Top Level Design
Tuaca Liqueur
Vanderbyl Design
Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA)
VSA Partners
Willoughby Design

In-kind sponsors

A to A Solutions
Mohawk Fine Paper
Meridian Printing
O’Neill Printing

Paper sponsors

Mohawk Fine Paper
Neenah Paper

Print sponsors


Technology sponsors



Worldstudio Foundation


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