AIGA medalists

The medal of AIGA — the most distinguished in the graphic arts field — is awarded to individuals in recognition of their exceptional achievements, services or contributions to the field of design & visual communication.

Herb Lubalin poster design
Herb Lubalin poster design: The Next War (1972)

The first medal was given to Norman T. A. Munder in 1920. Munder was a pioneer in modern printing, and — according to Wikipedia — won his gold AIGA medal in a printing exhibition. Since 1920, many great designers have been been recognised, including Paul Rand (1966), Milton Glaser (1972), Herb Lubalin (1980), Massimo and Lella Vignelli (1982), and Kit Hinrichs (2004).

Saul Bass logos
Saul Bass logos, symbols and packaging. Designed between 1963-1980.

You can view all AIGA medalists here, and it’s always good to learn how the most distinguished in the design profession ply their trade.

10 responses

  1. The poster you presented here is really meaningful. Things really have come to such a pass, that we’ll all be destroying ourselves in the next war…which we all pray doesn’t materialize ever.

  2. This is a meme and not a good ‘design’.

    Having a deeper, religious, understanding of ideas that are evolutionary is necessary for survival.

    Resolving conflicts for resources is necessary for survival, probably the second most important after reproducing. No surprise the most popular memes relate to love and war. Lubalin’s words, and not design, are thought provoking in that they take a very popular meme and show it’s root.

    We must fight for what is right- Yeah right, you better believe that what is ‘right’ in your civilisation will also be what is necessary to secure resources.

    We must fight for what is left- The root explanation of the meme.

    Another example of the same meme is:

    Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realise we cannot eat money.

    It’s in Your
    And Not
    This Design

  3. Thanks for the link David. I am just staring to learn about AIGA and it is great to see how they honor those who have blazed trails in visual design.

    I also think the poster shows how well we (as humans) can pick up the smallest details. You would think the words would be hard to read since they are all displayed in white, but because of the minor space between each word (and the more open space on each line containing a word starting with “w”) it becomes easily legible.

    It just goes to show that we don’t always need to hit viewers over the head with our designs. Many times our subtle design choices will be picked up by our audience.

  4. Hey Ian, the typography’s great. It drew me to the poster just as much as the message.

    Paul, don’t you think the “goodness” of the design depends upon the design brief? And if so, then it can’t be said if this is good or bad design without more information? The typography and contrast were two reasons that led me to pick it out.

    Jeremy, there’s a lot of useful information on the AIGA site. Sometimes I find the messages they send about spec work to be a little soft, but that definitely can’t be said of the excellent work the new president Debbie Millman—of Sterling Brands—is doing.

  5. I agree that the design is well balanced and framed, equal B&W and the typography good, but it’s very simple, as if the designer wanted to create something that’s easy for the eyes to settle on, something that would not interfere with the message. Can a design whose ambition it is, is not to offend, be considered for a top prize?

    I think a general rule when using a meme, is to make it difficult to speed read. They work best when you have to reconstruct the sentence in your mind first, it’s as if it came to you from a god, so you use a design which hinders quick communication.

    In my opinion there’s a lot of psychology involved here, with a little design. The design brief mentions communication, which in this case isn’t good. If this was in a language you could not understand, or you viewed it from afar, would it still grab you ?

    If I viewed this from a distance I would expect the text to be something along the lines of “Honk if you had sex last night”, it’s a little too bumper sticker kitsch for a top honour in design.

    Lubalin won a graphic design competition with a mental trick. He hits you with a powerful meme which leaves you awed by a simple design.

    An excellent book if your interested in mental and visual tricks is;

    “13 steps to Mentalism” by Corinda.

    This is the secret bible of all the mentalists like Derren Brown, most of his tricks, and the others, are variations of the ones in this book. You can download using Torrent to sample first before purchasing, I’m not sure it’s actually in print, 1st was early 1900’s.

  6. Thanks for stopping back over, Paul.

    You ask, “Can a design whose ambition it is, is not to offend, be considered for a top prize?” And I reply, must a design verge on offensive to have a chance at an award? In addition, can’t we couple design with other media to bring the best out of our profession, or should design awards be reserved for “pure” design, if there is such a thing?

    “A lot of psychology involved here, with a little design.”

    I’ll go with that, and I’m definitely interested in the book you mention—13 steps to mentalism. It does appear to be out of print, but I’ve found it on sale second hand.

    Some gorgeous photographs through your link, by the way.

  7. The poster, in fact, paraphrases a very famous quote by Bertrand Russell – “War does not determine who is right – only who is left.”

    Therefore, the only contribution Lubalin had was the typography, which is rather ordinary among graphic design trends, in my opinion.

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