Designers as Innovators: A Report from the 2016 AIGA Awards!

by Lou Killeffer

Designers as Innovators

The 2016 AIGA Awards Gala

On April 29th,  I joined hundreds of others at Pier Sixty on the Hudson River in Manhattan at the 2016 AIGA Awards Gala. Oh, what a night.

As the first and largest professional organization for design, with seventy chapters and over 26,000 members, the American Institute of Graphic Artists (AIGA) advances design as a professional craft, a strategic advantage, and a vital cultural force with impacts on business, society, and the future.

The AIGA Medal, the most distinguished honor in the field, recognizes exceptional achievement of individuals in design and visual communication. Medals have been awarded since 1920 to those who’ve set standards of excellence over a lifetime and had a significant impact on the practice of graphic design in the United States. (You’ll find the entire award ceremony here: https://www.aiga.org/the-aiga- awards.)

Given the increasing recognition of design in our daily lives, to say nothing of its impact on innovation, the AIGA Awards remind us once again of the essential role of individual creativity at the heart of virtually all successful change and transformation. Graphic design’s contributions are universal but they aren’t restricted to products or even experiences, much less images on the page or reflections on a screen. They reach much further. As my friend Michael Beirut so succinctly said, graphic designers “escort big ideas into the culture”. ‘Nough said.

This year’s Medalists comprise a quartet of truly remarkably gifted and giving women artists, with some particularly potent advice here. Click on their names to learn more about each of these incredible artists.

“Work with the best people, carve out room for white space, and then get out of the way” Ruth Ansel, 2016 AIGA Medal Honoree

“…Life is short, so why not do whatever you can think of that excites you?” – Maira Kalman, 2016 AIGA Medal Honoree

“Every day you should be looking. You should be looking at how things are put together.” – Gere Kavanaugh, 2016 AIGA Medal Honoree

“Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed.”– Corita Kent, 2016 AIGA Medal Honoree who was honored posthumously.

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How Companies Pursue GreatnessLou Killeffer is Editor at Large for Innovation Excellence, and Principal with Five Mile River Marketing. A versatile marketing strategist, Lou’s passion for communications and innovation has made him a trusted advisor to some of the world’s most enduring businesses and brands, from AT&T to UPS, where he helps enterprises embrace change, look ahead, and focus on sustaining success.

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