Dear AIGA, Goodbye.
Timothy Bardlavens


Thank you for sharing. We will miss you.

As the Executive director of AIGA I not only hear and understand your frustrations that we’re not moving fast enough…I share them.

We’re not moving fast enough from where I stand either. But we are moving. And I am willing to receive and hear what the design community has to say and work with AIGA leaders to make our community stronger.

I want to address one part of your message directly in the spirit of radical transparency and getting the work we ARE doing out as a response:

“As a black designer, I’ve now sat through multiple presentations and IBM Design Thinking exercises around how to bring equity into design. I get it, blacks only make up about 6% of the industry. I feel it, I see it, I know it. Every time I go to work, go to a networking event or attend an AIGA ConferenceI notice how few of “me” there are. So, even with the D&I Taskforce, what is AIGA doing about it?So, even with the D&I Taskforce, what is AIGA doing about it? How is it pushing from a national level to get the industry more diverse? Are we providing pathways for recent graduates of color, who had to use their university labs to do their design work, get a Mac and subscription to Adobe to continue to build their portfolios while transitioning into professional careers? Are we, from a national level, searching for ways to get funding into schools, especially in lower-income areas, to create graphic design classes, thus introducing more people of color to design sooner? Are we creating messaging for parents of color to show the impact and viability of design as a career?”

  1. Ironically, as you were literally writing this, there are over a dozen of us out asking for money — for full scholarships to bring more minority designers to our conference next month, and for an industry summit to set standards of accountability to accelerate this work. When we ask for money, we get more no’s than yes’s. We are not stopping.
  2. The industry summit we are planning with the D&I taskforce in 2018 will include multiple partners. Our intent is to push the entire industry to move faster to achieve parity, equity, and create accountabilities.
  3. We have supported D&I Taskforce chair Jacinda Walker’s research on K-12 career paths/the need to influence parents, we’ve shared keynote addresses with her, fought for her representation at industry events. We are just getting started here.
  4. We are developing more leadership training for our chapter leaders and our taskforces, working with Antionette Carroll, whose work at Creative Reaction Lab we are scaling and funding so it can fly through multiple channels.
  5. In the next phase of our work with our D&I taskforce we intend to help them become consultants who can be paid to do this work in industry.
  6. We have encouraged the national media to cover the work of the task force.
  7. We are not tolerating homogeneity in our content and our choices. We are expressing our impatience, putting more diverse designers on every leadership committee and stage we have, and deliberately cultivating diversity in the next generation of AIGA leadership.

Please know without question our work as an organization is far from done. We have so much more to do and it IS hard to rationalize where we are with where we want to be. Not just as an association, but as a society.

At the Design + Diversity conference in St. Louis last month, after Gus Granger’s powerful talk about rebranding the South, a man from New Orleans said…what is it going to take for us as a people to address this discord, this polarization?

Noone had an answer.

We’re not interested in pretty. We’re not giving up. I’m not giving up. And I know for certain you’re not. Thanks Tim, for speaking out. I will continue to believe in and expect great things from you.

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