AIGA (formerly an initialism for the "American Institute of Graphic Arts") 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 competitions 365 and 50 Books/50 Covers. 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. 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.
AIGA National Design Center
AIGA National Design Center keeps an archive of materials produced for AIGA, materials from AIGA design competitions, and materials from AIGA medalists.
Symbol sign project
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.
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.'
50 books of the year contest
Since 1941, AIGA has sponsored a juried contest for the 50 best designed books published in the previous year, currently entitled "50 Books/50 Covers". Jurors have included booksellers, book publishers, and designers such as George Salter.
AIGA Design Conference
The first AIGA Design Conference took place in Boston, Massachusetts in 1985. It is hosted every two years in a different city, and lasts 4 days.