How Medalists are chosen

Filed Under: Inspiration , AIGA Medal

The AIGA Medal—the most distinguished in the field—is awarded to individuals in recognition of their distinguished achievements, services, or other contributions to the advancement of design in practice, teaching, writing, or leadership of the profession.

Individuals may work in any country, but the contribution they’re honored for should have had a significant impact on the practice of design in the U.S. As a whole, the group of medalists should represent the design community’s diversity of gender, practice, and ethnicity. Designers may be honored posthumously, although it’s preferable to honor living designers who can continue to act role models and influence other practicing designers.

Nominate a Medalist

To nominate a colleague, mentor, or inspirational individual who has made a significant impact on the practice of design in the U.S. simply email the Awards Committee with a short paragraph about why he or she should be considered.

Selection criteria and process

Awards committee and process

Nominations for the AIGA Medal are reviewed by a committee of designers or design critics actively involved in AIGA who have been selected by the national board. After Medalists are selected based on the criteria listed below, the committee submits their recommendations to the national board of directors who ratify that the selection meets the criteria they set. The national board does not propose or reject individual names recommended by the committee.

The 2018 Awards Committee is chaired by Andrew Blauvelt, director, Cranbrook Art Museum, and also includes:

  • Antionette Carroll, CEO and president, Creative Reaction Lab
  • Brian Collins, CCO and cofounder, COLLINS
  • Rebeca Méndez, artist, designer, and professor, UCLA
  • Jennifer Morla, president and creative director, Morla Design
  • Todd Waterbury, chief creative officer, Target
  • Forest Young, head of design, Wolff Olins SF

Selection criteria

The AIGA board of directors has issued the following standing instructions to the committee. The board may augment the selections of the committee with additional honorees.

The AIGA board of directors has issued the following standing instructions to the committee:

  • One to four medals may be given each year, particularly for honorees who are judged by the differing criteria of lifetime achievement versus innovation. The board has asked the executive director to participate in the committee deliberations to provide guidance on the criteria for multiple awards.
  • It is expected that the AIGA Medal will be given to an individual who has made his or her contribution to communication design or visual communication as the profession is practiced by AIGA members (e.g., although product designers, photographers, architects, and illustrators may make a contribution to design through work in their own fields, each of these professions have other prestigious awards available to them for their professional achievements).
  • Every effort should be made by the committee to identify designers who have achieved the highest standard of excellence and have emerged from diverse backgrounds in terms of discipline, gender, race, ethnicity, age, and geography.
  • In addition to exemplary practice in their respective field, the ideal AIGA Medalist is one who has made significant contributions to the profession in multiple areas. These may include, but aren’t limited to: public advocacy for the profession, teaching, a demonstrated commitment to social change, writing, speaking, and other forms of thought leadership. Outstanding service to AIGA, the broader design community, and/or historically underrepresented communities within the profession (examples include communities of color, LGBT, etc.) are also valued considerations.
  • The selection of medalists, in context, will serve to increase public awareness and understanding of remarkable and influential design, the role of the designer, the process of design, and the value of design.
  • The AIGA Medal should bring attention to those designers who represent the highest aspirations of our members.