Your Local Chapter

AIGA Portland is an all-volunteer organization that connects local designers to the collective voice, experience, and resources of 66 AIGA chapters nationwide. Locally, AIGA Portland provides events and resources in the areas of professional development, networking, education, inspiration, sustainability and community engagement.

Its success depends on active participation from members and sponsors. AIGA Portland is what local volunteer make it. Have ideas, critique or comments? Throw them at us, and we’d love for you to join in supporting your profession.

We are design. We are AIGA.


Portland Initiatives


The mission of AIGA Portland’s Sustainability Initiative is to promote sustainable design practices in the local design community and be catalysts for positive change. Through events, online resources, communications and outreach, we raise awareness about the importance of using sustainability principles in our work. As designers, we have both the ability and responsibility to employ strategies that are good for the planet, good for society and ultimately good for the client.

We strive to:

• Challenge assumptions about what design can, and must, do
• Apply design thinking that improves lives and shifts behavior
• Deliver solutions that use resources wisely
• Discover unforeseen economic opportunity for all, and not just a few
• Employ strategies that use less while delivering more
• Consider solutions that respect cultural differences and promote universal understanding


Design for Good

AIGA Portland’s Design for Good program grew out of a national initiative by current President Doug Powell.

As designers, we have powerful skills that can be used to communicate, activate, engage, and motivate a community around social issues. AIGA encourages all designer to donate at 5% of their time to a deserving non-profit. This pro bono work is encouraged and falls outside the realm of spec work (see Advocacy section below).

Locally, AIGA Portland’s first Design for Good Committee partnered with the local non-profit The Right Brain Initiative, to work on further developing Brain Food, creative and exploratory activities for children. The Right Brain Initiative is a local arts education partnership that engages children and adults in imaginative and exploratory learning experiences. Brain Food activities integrate an artistic approach with other school subject areas, modeling the kind of learning that Right Brain brings students and teachers. Brain Food activities were imagined by AIGA participants in a Brain Food Thinkstorm event in September 2011.

Brain Food was also modeled in The Lab at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in honor of their Project H exhibit. The collaborative exhibit was called, Brain Food Lab presents ProtoTown. The ProtoTown exhibit engaged children and parents to create a small-scale replica city in the museum from found/reused materials.

On the agenda for early 2012 is to form the expanded Brain Food challenges into a full physical activity deck that will be given away at public schools and available at local retailers.



AIGA Portland is committed to connecting students and emerging designers with the larger design community. This connection will help foster the development of future design leaders by advocating the value of design, and providing opportunities for career development and professional growth.

The AIGA Portland Education Chair, along with volunteers, implement programs that assist emerging designers and students with their education and career development. Studio tours, networking opportunities at events, and an annual portfolio review are just a few of the opportunities provided. The AIGA Portland Education Chair is also a liaison for the chapter’s student groups, advocating their interests to the chapter and national organization.



AIGA represents the design profession and its members and in doing so, strongly and regularly argues against the practice of speculative work. Spec work as defined by AIGA as—work done prior to engagement with a client in anticipation of being paid. Yet not all unpaid design work is considered “spec work.” In fact, unpaid work may take a number of forms:

Speculative or “spec” work: work done for free, in hopes of getting paid for it

Competitions: work done in the hopes of winning a prize—in whatever form that might take

Volunteer work: work done as a favor or for the experience, without the expectation of being paid

Internships: a form of volunteer work that involves educational gain

Pro bono work: volunteer work done “for the public good”

Not all of the above are considered speculative work, and in fact many designers choose to do unpaid work for a variety of reasons. Students and professionals may draw different lines on what constitute unacceptable practices. In each case, however, the designer and client make the decision and must accept the associated risks.

This is often a gray area, but the general rule that AIGA advocates is not to engage in work in competition with others in hope of future compensation. These competition-style design practices undermine and devalue the profession we all represent. You can (and are encouraged) to do pro bono work so long as you can be sure the client is engaging you professionally and not crowdsourcing free work.

AIGA Portland has worked to educate and react against some prominent local calls for free crowd-sourced design. In many cases a client’s intent is well-intentioned and AIGA’s response is concise, collective and professional.

Please help us by adhering to your own professional practice guidelines and using AIGA’s resources to educate and inform when you see cases of spec work.