AIGA history timeline
AIGA history timeline
AIGA history timeline

AIGA was founded in 1914 as a small club of graphic artists, printers, publishers and illustrators gathered in New York City. Since then, we’ve grown into a national network of more than 25,000 professional designers, educators, students and design enthusiasts served by 68 chapters.

In honor of the AIGA Centennial in 2014, this historical timeline represents a snapshot of 100 years of growth, change, creativity and achievement.


AIGA celebrates its centennial with events across the country:

The “100 Years of Design” history project is launched at

Exhibitions of design history are held in New York, Atlanta and Denver


AIGA Middle East becomes AIGA’s second international affiliate


AIGA introduces a new membership structure, giving every designer an affordable chance to belong

Justified” is launched as AIGA's design competition of case studies of great design


AIGA launches the “Design for Good” initiative, a movement for design-driven social change

AIGA launches “Design Envy,” a curated blog of design excellence created by designers, for designers

AIGA hosts “One Day for Design,” a global dialogue on the future of design


Design Journeys: You Are Here,” an interactive exhibition on diversity, is organized at the AIGA National Design Center


The Living Principles for Design,” a framework which distills four streams of sustainability (environment, people, economy, and culture) is launched at the AIGA Design Conference in Memphis


AIGA membership exceeds 20,000
AIGA Design for Democracy develops the first national ballot and polling place design guidelines for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, distributed to 6,000 election officials nationwide. 


AIGA China is launched in Beijing as AIGA’s first international affiliate

AIGA gifts more than 10,000 works featured in annual design competitions since 1980 to the Denver Art Museum—a collection representing one of the largest and finest holdings of contemporary American communication design.


AIGA changes its name to “AIGA, the professional association for design” to welcome all design disciplines

The AIGA Design Archives are created, making more than 20,000 works accessible online

AIGA assumes responsibility for the International Design Conference at Aspen


AIGA establishes an executive education program for creative leaders, initially held at Harvard University and now at the Yale School of Management


AIGA publishes standards for professional practice in Design Business and Ethics


AIGA hosts the “Collision” conference on interactive design
AIGA launches its “Get Out the Vote” poster campaign, running every four years



AIGA hosts “Design for Television and Video” conferences on motion design


The AIGA Fellow program is launched, allowing chapters to honor local design leaders who have made an impact on their communities


The “Design for Democracy” initiative is launched to make interactions between the U.S. government and its citizens more understandable, efficient and trustworthy


AIGA membership exceeds 10,000


AIGA organizes its first biennial conference on business and design, later known as the “Gain: AIGA Design and Business Conference
AIGA acquires the former Knights of Pythias building at 164 Fifth Avenue in New York City


AIGA holds the federally supported seminar “Why is Graphic Design 93% White?”


The first “AIGA Survey of Design Salaries” is published, later published online at


The exhibition “Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History” is organized with the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis


The first annual chapter retreat for board members of AIGA chapters is held in Spring Hill, Minnesota; this later becomes the basis of the annual AIGA Leadership Retreat 


“Toward a Design Community,” the first biennial national AIGA Design Conference, is held in Boston


AIGA publishes “Code of Ethics,” which becomes the basis for Design Business and Ethics


AIGA chapters begin to form, based on a model in Philadelphia


The first AIGA design annual, Graphic Design USA, is published as a comprehensive record of competitions and exhibitions

AIGA publishes Graphic Design for Nonprofit Institutions by Massimo Vignelli and Peter Laundy


AIGA organizes the design and distribution of 50 Symbol Signs for the U.S. Department of Transportation


“The Sign and the City,” an environmental graphics exhibition, is held at the New York Public Library


“Graphic Arts U.S.A.,” an exhibition organized through AIGA by the U.S. Information Agency and designed by Chermayeff & Geismar Associates, tours through the USSR


Publisher Edna Beilenson is elected AIGA’s first woman president, and children’s book editor May Massee becomes the first female Medalist


Leo Lionni is elected AIGA president, shifting leadership from the printing establishment to modernists


The bimonthly AIGA Journal is launched, reaching 1,000 members


AIGA succeeds in lobbying for the standardization of process colors, setting new standards for consistency between design and printing


The “Fifty Books of 1923” design exhibition takes place, which later becomes the annual “50 Books/50 Covers” competition


AIGA member W. A. Dwiggins coins the term “graphic designer” in The Boston Globe


The first AIGA Medal, designed by James Earle Fraser, is awarded to Norman T. A. Munder at the AIGA “Printing Exhibition”

AIGA becomes the first graphic arts organization to include women designers

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