In The News
Celebrating the Design Leaders and Writers Who are Changing and Advancing the Design ProfessionRead More
Audrey Grace Bennett
Recognized for her extensive career as an educator and international speaker, she is prolific in her writing and in her thinking, using her position and the power of her ideas—embedded in social justice and the future of education—to advance design theories and practices.
Audrey Bennett is a 2015 Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Scholar of the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She joined the Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design faculty as a full professor with tenure in 2018. She was appointed as a University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor in 2019. Previously she taught at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Bennett’s design research agenda diverges into theoretical and applied lines of inquiry that study “interactive aesthetics” to facilitate cross-cultural and multimodal communication to yield cognitive and behavioral changes toward equity and justice. She is a member of the Editorial Boards of the journals Image and Text (South Africa) and New Design Ideas (Azerbaijan) and a former member of the Board of Directors of the College Art Association, where she served as Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She holds an M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University.
- Chris Dingwall, Design Historian and Curator, Oakland University
- Sheharazad Fleming (Co-Chair), Director of Digital Design and Marketing, Office of L.A. City Mayor
- Karin Fong, Director + Designer, Imaginary Forces
- Maribeth Kradel-Weitzel (Co-Chair), Assistant Provost, Associate Professor and Program Director of MS Health Communication Design, Thomas Jefferson University
Advisors to the Committee (non-voting):
Ashleigh Axios, Chief Experience Officer and Partner, Coforma
Returning committee members have been invited to participate in the committee deliberations as non-voting members to provide guidance on the criteria. Additional guidance provided by Jessica Helfand and Steven Heller.
AIGA Medalist Steven Heller has written more than 140 books on graphic design, illustration, and political art. As Paula Scher said of Steven, “the one common denominator of Heller's work is that the design and/or the designer is always the star. Heller maintains a journalistic narrative that allows the design and the designer to stand out. He is graphic design’s biggest fan.” Steven serves as Co-chair, MFA Design Department, School of Visual Arts; special assistant to the president, School of Visual Arts; co-founder, MFA Design Criticism, MPS Branding, MFA Interaction Design, MFA Products of Design, and Impact! Design for Social Change program with Mark Randall, all at the School of Visual Arts; contributing editor: Print, where he writes The Daily Heller, Eye, Baseline; contributing writer: Metropolis, Design Bureau, Design Observer, Port, IDPure; columnist, The New York Times Book Review. Earlier in his career he served as Senior art director, The New York Times Book Review.
Scher concluded her AIGA medalist essay about Steven by saying, “We easily take for granted our design history books, our magazines, and our conferences. We are accustomed now to seeing design work from all over the world and from any time in history without working terribly hard to find it. But before 1980, design books, magazines and design conferences were few and far between. Steven Heller has immortalized our graphic past and made coherence of our present. The debt that future graphic designers owe him simply cannot be calculated.”
Steven is married to 2014 AIGA Medalist Louise Fili, and resides in New York City.
AIGA members are invited to submit nominations to be considered by next year’s committee. To nominate a colleague, mentor, or individual whose writing or commentary has made a significant impact in the U.S., simply complete the nomination form. Including the name of the nominee, a short paragraph about why the individual should be considered, and a link to a writing sample with their byline or their website. Nominations are accepted on a rolling basis and are considered year after year for the next awards cycle. Each year, nominations for the Steven Heller Prize are reviewed by an awards committee of to verify eligibility. Yearly recommendations for the prize are then presented to the AIGA National Board of Directors for majority approval.
Individuals who are honored will have demonstrated breadth of their work or expertise in a specific area; shown diversity and range in their storytelling voice and the ability to be adaptive to established brands or delivery platforms; and using longform, short blogs, humor, or serious investigation, writers will have effectively conveyed ideas to engage their audience. The definition of writer may include, but is not limited to: book authors, editors, critics, reporters, copywriters, bloggers, podcasters, radio hosts, and filmmakers. Eligibility is limited to individuals who are citizens or current long-term residents of the United States.
Book author, editor, critic, reporter, copywriter, blogger, podcaster, radio/video content creators,
or filmmakers who:
- Have an original voice
- Demonstrate breadth in their work or expertise within their specific area of focus
- Show diversity and range in their storytelling
- Effectively convey ideas to engage their audience through the use of long-form, short blogs, humor or serious investigation
- Have published in the United States as a citizen or long-term resident
- Have shown a recent track record for content for at least 3 years (post-grad)
- Brave (i.e., analytical, authoritative, courageous, critical, individual, innovative, insightful, penetrating) bodies of work (embody Steven Heller)
- Diversity of background, age, culture, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
- Involvement with AIGA past, present, future