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AIGA logo

AIGA (formerly an initialism for the "American Institute of Graphic Arts"[1]) is an American professional organization for design. Organized in 1914, AIGA currently has more than 22,000 members 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.[citation needed] 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.[2]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.'[5]

Annual competitions[edit]


The 365 was an annual design competition for all graphic design other than book design.[6] The last “365” competition was organized in 2011,[7] 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.[8]

On 17 February 2012, AIGA announced that it would cease organizing the contest and that future contests would be organized by Design Observer.[9] This move has been criticized.[6]


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”.[10]

AIGA Design Conference[edit]

The first AIGA Design Conference took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985. It is hosted every two years[11] in a different city, and lasts 4 days.[12]

Past AIGA Design Conferences[edit]

  • 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

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

National Board Members[edit]

  • Julie Beeler
  • Andrew Blauvelt
  • Gaby Brink
  • Drew Davies
  • Richard Grefé (current executive director)
  • Phil Hamlett
  • Zia Khan (current secretary/treasurer)
  • James Koval
  • Deanna Kuhlmann-Leavitt
  • Santiago Piedrafita
  • Doug Powell (current president)
  • Darralyn Rieth
  • Susana Rodríguez de Tembleque
  • Nathan Shedroff
  • Angela Shen-Hsieh
  • Robin Tooms
  • Debbie Millman, President of the Design division at Sterling Brands, is ex officio member of the board.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AIGA name". 
  2. ^ "District of Columbia Corporate Records". The District of Columbia. 
  3. ^ "How AIGA archives design history". Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Symbol Signs". AIGA. 2009. Archived from the original on 10 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-02. 
  5. ^ Vienne, Véronique (March–April 2007). "Strong words". Print. 
  6. ^ a b Scher, Paula (6 April 2012). "AIGA: Unjustified". Print Magazine. Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  7. ^ AIGA. "365 | Design Effectiveness Competition". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Fifty Books of the year 1963, The American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York, 1964
  9. ^ AIGA (17 February 2012). "AIGA and Design Observer Partner on "50 Books/50 Covers"". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  10. ^ AIGA. "Justified: AIGA Annual Design Competition". Retrieved 3 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Pivot: AIGA Design Conference 2011. AIGA. Web. 21 Aug 2011.
  12. ^ Make/Think: AIGA Design Conference 2009. CMS Wire. Web. 1 Oct 2009.
  13. ^ A Tradition Over Time. AIGA. Web. 1 October 2009.

External links[edit]