AIGA Medal

The medal of AIGA—the most distinguished honor in the profession of communication design—has been awarded since 1920 to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements to the advancement of the field of design as respected craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force. Medals have been awarded to individuals who have set standards of excellence over a lifetime of work or have made individual contributions to innovation within the practice of design.

Purpose and goals:

  • To celebrate designers who represent the highest aspirations of our members by honoring inspirational individuals who have successfully enhanced the value and deepened the impact of design on business, society, and culture, through their unique and outstanding contributions in the practice of design, teaching, writing, or leadership of the profession.
  • To increase public awareness and understanding of the critical and influential role of design and designers in business, culture, and our communities at large.

Nominate a Medalist

Although nominations for 2020 are closed, AIGA members are invited to submit nominations to be considered by next year’s committee. To nominate an inspirational colleague, mentor, or individual who has made a significant impact in the U.S., simply complete the nomination form. Include the name of the nominee, a short paragraph about why the individual should be considered, and a link to their website or portfolio. Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered year after year for the next awards cycle. Each year, nominations for the AIGA Medal are reviewed by an awards committee to verify eligibility. Yearly recommendations for Medal awards are then presented to the AIGA National Board of Directors for majority approval. The Board approves a slate of Medalists, and does not propose or reject individual names recommended by the committee.

Individuals who are honored may work in any country, but the contribution for which they are honored should have had a significant impact on the practice of communication design in the United States.

Lens for unique and outstanding contribution:

  • Achievement: With a focus on craft, eligible nominees will have made a historically significant contribution to the profession
  • Enrichment: With a focus on community, eligible nominees will have set a new benchmark for service as community catalysts
  • Expansion: With a focus on possibility, nominees will have pushed the envelope to broaden the scope of what we consider great design

Selection Criteria

The AIGA board of directors has issued the following instructions:

  • Minimum of one and maximum of three medals will be awarded each year
  • As a whole, the select group of Medalists should represent the design community’s diversity of design practice, gender, ethnicity, and geography
  • While AIGA’s roots are founded in traditional forms of graphic design, the selected group of awardees should reflect the broad scope of where the profession of design is today
  • Honor designers as exemplary, living role models of inspiration and aspiration to our members

One Honorary Medal per year may be awarded at the discretion of the committee to recognize a designer posthumously. Recognition opportunities for posthumous awards may vary.

Additional attributes for consideration:

  • Exemplary service to AIGA and the broader design community
  • Strong leader and role model for AIGA’s members and its mission of design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force
  • Public advocacy for the profession
  • Consistent commitment to social change

The Awards Committee:

  • Chris Dingwall, Design Historian and Curator, Oakland University (AIGA Detroit)
  • Karin Fong, Director + Designer, Imaginary Forces (AIGA Los Angeles)
  • Gaby Hernández, Social Design Researcher and Educator, University of Florida (AIGA Gainesville)
  • Hugh Weber (Co-Chair), CEO and Curator, Institute of Possibility (AIGA South Dakota)
  • Forest Young (Co-Chair), Global Principal, Wolff Olins (AIGA San Francisco)

Advisors to the Committee (non-voting):

  • Dana Arnett (AIGA President), Vice Chairman and Founding Partner, VSA Partners (AIGA Chicago)
  • Ashleigh Axios (AIGA President Elect), Chief Experience Officer, &Partners (AIGA Washington, DC)

Returning committee members have been invited to participate in the committee deliberations as non-voting members to provide guidance on the criteria.

Support AIGA

Support AIGA’s work to impact the future of the profession. Help us lead the change for designers at each phase of their careers by making a donation today!

Contact us to learn about to learn about corporate partnerships or foundation support opportunities for the AIGA Awards program—including the AIGA Corporate Leadership Award, AIGA Medal, and the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary.

Thank you in advance for helping to recognize individuals doing excellent work now.

Questions? Email

Medalists Gallery


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