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Aiga logo.svg
AIGA logo
Founded 1914 (1914)
Type Professional Association
Area served
United States
22,323 (2013)[2]
Official languages
Key people
President Sean Adams[3]
$5,261,526 (2013)[2]
Expenses $5,261,526 (2013)[2]
Formerly called
American Institute of Graphic Arts[1]

AIGA (formerly an initialism for American Institute of Graphic Arts[4]) is an American professional organization for design. Organized in 1914,[1] AIGA currently has more than 22,000 members[2] throughout 66 chapters and more than 200 student groups nationwide. Its activities include the AIGA Medal, the AIGA Design Archives, and annual design competition “Justified”. The organization's tagline is "the professional association for design", which is used immediately after the AIGA name in its own publications.


In 1914, at the National Arts Club in New York City, a group of designers, led by Charles DeKay, met to create the American Institute of Graphic Arts. William H. Howland, publisher and editor of The Outlook, was elected president.[5] Represented by Washington, D.C. arts advocate and attorney, James Lorin Silverberg, Esq., The Washington, D.C. Chapter of AIGA, was organized as the American Institute of Graphic Arts, Incorporated, Washington, D.C. on September 6, 1984.[6]

AIGA National Design Center[edit]

AIGA National Design Center keeps an archive of materials produced for AIGA, materials from AIGA design competitions, and materials from AIGA medalists.[7]

Symbol sign project[edit]

The AIGA, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation, produced 50 standard symbols to be used on signs "in airports and other transportation hubs and at large international events". The first 34 symbols were published in 1974, receiving a Presidential Design Award. The remaining 16 designs were added in 1979.[8]

Name change[edit]

In 2006, The American Institute of Graphic Arts changed its name, retaining the acronym AIGA as its name, and adopting the descriptor line "the professional association for design." The name change initially caused confusion within the organizations' membership and the design community. Véronique Vienne, in the March/April 2007 edition of the American design periodical Print, criticized the name change as reducing rather than extending understanding of the profession. The article quotes Marc Gobé, author of Emotional Branding, "The AIGA missed an opportunity to make a strong statement...replacing the authoritative 'American Institute' with the banal 'Professional Association.'[9]

Overseas activity[edit]

In 2007[10] AIGA launched AIGA China, a non-membership-based presence[11] headquartered in Beijing[12] with a stated mission to “provide a platform for communication among the institutions that teach design throughout China and the USA, and to support China’s increasingly strong position in the world by creating programs which enhance access to AIGA’s extensive resources by Chinese designers.”[13]

Annual competitions[edit]


The 365 was an annual design competition for all graphic design other than book design.[14] The last “365” competition was organized in 2011,[15] after which it was replaced by the “Justified” competition.

50 Books/50 Covers[edit]

Between 1941 and 2011 AIGA sponsored a juried contest for the 50 best designed books published in the previous year, entitled "50 Books/50 Covers". Jurors had included booksellers, book publishers, and designers such as George Salter.[16]

On 17 February 2012, AIGA announced that it would cease organizing the contest and that future contests would be organized by Design Observer.[17] This move has been criticized.[14]


In 2012, AIGA replaced all its competitions with a single competition called “Justified”. The stated aim of the competition is to “collect and showcase the stories behind the best design, to demonstrate the collective success and impact of the design profession”.[18]


AIGA organizes two conferences, the AIGA Design Conference and GAIN: AIGA Design and Business Conference. Both conferences are held biennially and the two are held in alternating years.

AIGA Design Conference[edit]

The first AIGA Design Conference took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985. It is hosted every two years[19] in a different city, and lasts 4 days.[20]

Past AIGA Design Conferences include:[21]

  • 1985 - Boston
  • 1987 - San Francisco
  • 1989 - San Antonio
  • 1991 - Chicago
  • 1993 - Miami
  • 1995 - Seattle
  • 1997 - New Orleans
  • 1999 - Las Vegas
  • 2001 - Washington
  • 2003 - Vancouver
  • 2005 - Boston
  • 2007 - Denver
  • 2009 - Memphis
  • 2011 - Phoenix
  • 2013 - Minneapolis
  • 2015 - New Orleans

Speakers at the 2009 Conference included Stefan G. Bucher, Marissa Mayer and Stefan Sagmeister.

National Board Members[edit]

As of 2014, the national board consists of[3]

  • Sean Adams (current president)
  • Deborah Adler
  • Kim Baer
  • Robert Calvano
  • Ken Carbone
  • Allan Chochinov
  • Richard Grefé (current executive director)
  • Su Mathews Hale
  • Jenny Lam
  • John Luu
  • Kevin Perry
  • Ruki Ravikumar
  • Darralyn Rieth (current secretary/treasurer)
  • Christopher Simmons
  • Brian Singer
  • Jill Spaeth
  • Paul Wharton


Between 2005 and 2009, AIGA was briefly a member of Icograda. In 2010, it withdrew from the international organization, citing financial reasons.[22]



In 1947 AIGA started publishing the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design (ISSN 0736-5322),[23] which in 2000 was renamed Trace: AIGA Journal of Design (ISSN 1471-3497).[24] The journal ceased publication in 2003.[25]

Between 2000 and 2003 AIGA published Loop: AIGA Journal of Interaction Design Education, an “interactive, web-based” research journal on interaction and visual interface design co-sponsored by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Center for Design Studies.[26]

Between 2004 and 2011 AIGA published Voice: AIGA Journal of Design, an “an online publication for the discussion of design matters” listing Steven Heller as its editor.[27][28] Although the journal was stated in “What AIGA is doing and why”[29] and had been cited in scholarly research,[30][31] after AIGA revamped its website in May 2011[32] it was subsumed under AIGA’s main site and ceased to exist as a distinct entity.


As part of its strategy to “publish critical thinking about design and designing”, AIGA also “copublishes selected works by thought leaders in design”[33] under the imprint of “AIGA Design Press”.[29] Published titles include

  • The Open Brand: When Push Comes to Pull in a Web-Made World (Kelly Mooney and Nita Rollins, 2008)
  • Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite (Xtine Burrough and Michael Mandiberg, 2008), which was released under a Creative Commons license[34]
  • Designing for Interaction: Creating Smart Applications and Clever Devices (Dan Saffer, 2006)
  • Designing With Web Standards (Jeffrey Zeldman, 2006)
  • Inside/Outside: From the Basics to the Practice of Design (Malcolm Grear, 2006)
  • ZAG: The Number-One Strategy of High-Performance Brands (Marty Neumeier, 2006)
  • Do Good: How Design Can Change the World (David B. Berman, 2008)
  • Writing for Visual Thinkers: A Guide for Artists and Designers (Andrea Marks, 2011)

AIGA has also published the periodically updated AIGA professional practices in graphic design[35] including a translation to simplified Chinese.[36]

Other publication activities[edit]

AIGA also maintains the AIGA Design Archives, which was identified as a publishing activity.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c AIGA. "About AIGA". Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d AIGA. "Annual Report 2013". Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b AIGA. "AIGA Board of Directors". Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ "AIGA name". 
  5. ^ Steven Heller; Nathan Gluck. "Seventy-five years of AIGA". Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "District of Columbia Corporate Records". The District of Columbia. 
  7. ^ "How AIGA archives design history". Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Symbol Signs". AIGA. 2009. Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  9. ^ Vienne, Véronique (March–April 2007). "Strong words". Print. 
  10. ^ AIGA. "AIGA China". Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  11. ^ AIGA China. "Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  12. ^ AIGA China. "About AIGA China". Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  13. ^ AIGA China. "Mission Statement". Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  14. ^ a b Scher, Paula (6 April 2012). "AIGA: Unjustified". Print Magazine. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  15. ^ AIGA. "365 | Design Effectiveness Competition". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Fifty Books of the year 1963, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York, 1964
  17. ^ AIGA (17 February 2012). "AIGA and Design Observer Partner on "50 Books/50 Covers"". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  18. ^ AIGA. "Justified: AIGA Annual Design Competition". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  19. ^ Pivot: AIGA Design Conference 2011. AIGA. Web. 21 Aug 2011.
  20. ^ Make/Think: AIGA Design Conference 2009. CMS Wire. Web. 1 Oct 2009.
  21. ^ A Tradition Over Time. AIGA. Web. 1 October 2009.
  22. ^ Grefe, Richard (January 25, 2010). "Why has AIGA withdrawn from Icograda?". Retrieved July 15, 2014. 
  23. ^ AIGA. "AIGA History Timeline". Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  24. ^ "AIGA journal of graphic design / [Periodical]". OCAD U Library Catalogue. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Name changed to Trace: AIGA Journal of Design after v.18 no.2 (2000) 
  25. ^ "Trace / [Periodical]". OCAD U Library Catalogue. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Subtitled: AIGA Journal of Design. Publication ceased as of April 2003. 
  26. ^ "About Loop". Loop (7). AIGA. June 2013. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  27. ^ "Voice: AIGA Journal of Design". Archived from the original on March 28, 2004. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Consulting Editor Steven Heller 
  28. ^ "Voice: AIGA Journal of Design". Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2014. Editor Steven Heller 
  29. ^ a b c AIGA. "What AIGA is doing and why: 2011" (PDF). p. 35. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  30. ^ Muir, Clive (June 2008). "Smiling With Customers". Business Communication Quarterly (Sage Publications) 71 (2): 241–246. doi:10.1177/1080569908317320. 
  31. ^ Julier, Guy (May 2005). "Urban Designscapes and the Production of Aesthetic Consent". Urban Studies (Routledge) 42 (5/6): 869–887. doi:10.1080/00420980500107474. 
  32. ^ AIGA. "FAQs: About". Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  33. ^ Zeldman, Jeffrey (July 6, 2006). Designing with Web Standards (2nd ed.). New Riders. p. xx. ISBN 0-321-38555-1. 
  34. ^ Parkins, Cameron (December 22, 2008). "AIGA Design Press: Digital Foundations, CC-Licensed Media Design Instruction". Creative Commons. Retrieved July 19, 2014. 
  35. ^ "American Institute of Graphic Arts". OCLC WorldCat Identities. OCLC. Retrieved July 18, 2014. 
  36. ^ AIGA China. "Design Business & Ethics, Chinese Edition". Retrieved July 19, 2014. 

External links[edit]