Working pro bono is an excellent way for inexperienced designers to build their portfolios, and for experienced designers to do great work for causes they love.
Javier Mateos of Mexico-based design studio Xplaye helped both himself and others with a successful pro bono effort. Two years ago, Xplaye started a series of tribute exhibitions that involved taking a famous music band and translating some of their songs into illustrations.
Last year, the studio created a tribute to Grammy Award winning Café Tacuba, one of the most popular bands in Mexico. The project wasn’t intended to make a profit, but rather to raise funds for children with spina bifida.
Through social media, Café Tacuba heard about what Xplaye were doing. They were so happy that they decided to autograph every illustration for an auction to increase the donations for the association helping the kids.
Café Tacuba signing Xplaye’s illustrations.
The project was covered on CNN Mexico, in Rolling Stone Mexico, on MTV.la, and in the most important TV and print media in the country.
Roughly $10,000 was raised, and five companies approached the spina bifida association to offer materials and supplies.
“This project grew our design bureau in a wonderful way. As a result we are now invited to many conferences, we’re asked to give interviews, and we gained respect from our colleagues in Mexico. It was an amazing and successful experience!”
— Javier Mateos, Xplaye
Just one example of how to grow your business while helping those in need.
In Work for Money, Design for Love you can read other case studies where pro bono design has led directly to paying clients.
Pro bono resources:
Five myths about pro bono design, on Co.Design
AIGA job board, contains a pro bono section
How to improve your portfolio with pro bono design, in the archives
And here’s a video of Café Tacuba unplugged with Gustavo Santaolalla. I love their sound.