03.15.17
Julie Anixter + Mark Randall | Essays

Mark Randall: How Design Can Make a More Tolerant World



Every year, AIGA, the professional association for design, honors the top innovators of the creative industry with the AIGA Medal, a prestigious award to recognize those who have made exceptional achievements in the field of design, at the AIGA Gala. This year, the 2017 Gala will honor Art Chantry, Emmett McBain (posthumously), Rebeca Méndez, Mark Randall, Nancy Skolos, Thomas Wedell, and Lance Wyman. For the next six weeks, we'll ask Medalists to choose one social issue important to them and we'll ​​show, through their work, how design can impact it. So even if you can't make it to the Gala on April 21, you'll still have a chance to get to know these seven stellar creatives and how they see design improving the world in which we all live. And you can catch the Awards Ceremony live at 7:30 p.m. EST on April 21 at AIGA.org/gala​


If Mark Randall had to choose one thing that design could impact, “it would be tolerance.” This makes perfect sense because the mission of Worldstudio, the strategy and communications firm he heads as principal, is to "build bridges between our collaborators–our social initiative partners or clients–to support the communities they serve." His life's work has been a laboratory committed to creating tolerance for differences among people.

“Dialogues on Race,” a recent project Mark profiles below, is one of hundreds of design projects Randall and his social design firm, Worldstudio, have lead and built out of a commitment to creating a more inclusive, tolerant world. Randall is being recognized with the 2017 AIGA Medal for his ​oversized dedication to making the design profession more diverse, starting with the earliest stages—students. For over 20 years, Mark has turned talk in to action by ​funding​ ​minority and economically disadvantaged design ​students through the Worldstudio AIGA scholarship, so that those students are better able to pursue the career of their dreams, and so the design field will be represented by a more diverse array of voices. To date Randall and his team have overseen the distribution of over one million dollars to 705 students. As Mark said, "Art ignites dialogue." The project he highlights below is just the beginning of the conversation. —Julie Anixter



Billboard from the project in San Francisco, designed by the First Exposures summer youth group, Triple Double Trouble.

Dialogues on Race
is a nationwide public art and design initiative that empowers teams – comprised of individuals who have knowledge and experience around issues of race and social justice, in combination with a designer or artist – to create public murals, billboards, banners and transit posters. The artwork will address themes connected to one of the most pressing issues of our time in compelling and thought-provoking ways.

Dialogues on Race aims to advance racial justice through media, dialogue and practice. Our goal is to produce an initiative that informs, teaches and builds relationships, and strengthens the multi-racial and multi-ethnic fabric of our communities.

Two-member teams will consist of a voice from the community (this could be an expert in social justice or an activist, it could be a high-school student, a police officer or a religious leader). These individuals will be paired with a local artist or designer to collaborate on a powerful visual statement that addresses race in America.

The artwork is not a means to an end, it is just the beginning. It will serve as a platform on which to build localized, community-specific events, as well as programing and educational outreach activities to ignite a public dialogue around the issues and concerns being addressed. Community engagement will include the facilitation of high-school and college student mentoring collaborations with creative professionals along with an open-source interactive website.

New York City 2017

An iteration of the project in New York will feature ten teams, each composed of a high-profile artist or designer and a member of an organization that addresses issues of race and social justice, or a member of the community who has had experience, positive or negative, around the issue. The project is being developed with support from the New York City Department of Transportation. We are currently seeking a major funding partner along with non-profits and experts in the field of social justice.

The project so far

The project was conceived and launched in Dallas in the fall of 2014 by Make Art with Purpose (MAP). In the spring of 2015, Worldstudio and MAP executed an iteration of the project with New York Art and Design High School students who were participating in the AIGA NY Mentoring Program. Dialogues on Race partnered with the noted youth photography mentoring program, First Exposures​,​ in San Francisco. Thirty students worked with designers and photographers to create posters on the theme which ​was displayed on an electronic billboard on Fisherman’s Wharf for one month starting in late December 2016. What's next? This work was meant to be seen. To make that happen contact Mark Randall.

A billboard from the project in Dallas, designed by Thania Dominguez – McElroy and Jin-Ya Huang

MAP founder, Janeil Engelstad, leading a project workshop for students from the High School of Art & Design and the AIGA NY Chapter mentoring program,MAP founder, Janeil Engelstad, leading a project workshop for students from the New York High School of Art and Design and the AIGA NY Mentoring Program.

Posters from the AIGA NY Chapter Mentoring Program. Posters from the AIGA NY Mentoring Program.

aiga_mentor_3A mentee and mentor from the AIGA NY Mentoring Program.



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