GDUSA Green Newsletter

October 2011


Sustainability continues to exert a powerful impact on the graphic design business. As the conversation about environmentally friendly design becomes broader, more nuanced and more sophisticated – concerns about energy, the climate and stewardship have joined the original issues of recycled content, landfills and trees – so, too, are design firms grappling with their role in creating a more responsible society. In this enewsletter, we spotlight several designers who are successfully integrating sustainability into their business model and lifestyle. These are “green people” who have taken the lessons of The Living Principles for Design to heart – “Culture is where designers have the deepest impact as their creations and choices shape habits and values.” Next month: back to our news format.
— Gordon Kaye


A Dozen Green Design Firms

You can learn more about these firms and see some of their favorite environmentally-friendly projects in the October 2011 GDUSA magazine, which is now in the mail, or at


Citizen Studio, Atlanta GA

Citizen Studio was founded in 2004 on the philosophy that sustainability is integral to good design. The husband-and-wife team of Linda and Chris Doherty produce identity and communications for clients who understand the importance of sustainability. Whether finding the best mix of media to tell a client’s story more sustainably, thinking ahead to eliminate waste, or making the most of a non-profit or start-up budget, sustainability is always part of the design process. The Dohertys run the business with the triple bottom line in mind. Every decision – from furnishing the office with sustainable furniture to choosing to work with local talent and printers – considers the entire footprint, whether it is visible or not in the final product.

“Promoting our sustainable design solutions does a great deal for our business. It not only attracts like-minded clients – it also makes our work more rewarding. Those passionate about sustainability tend to have optimistic, collaborative attitudes. Conversations go deeper; strategy and ideas reign so we rarely get stuck in the aesthetics, although they have to be on target too. While we specifically target green companies and organizations, we also enjoy working with companies that come to us just because they like our portfolio. They end up learning about, and usually embracing, our goal of smarter, more sustainable communications. Clients come to us because they want great design or for the sustainable focus. To us, they’re one in the same.”


Yurich Creative, Cleveland OH

Talking clients out of doing work is an unusual practice for most design firms, but principles Beth and Dennis Yurich have been know to do just that. The partners like to put their clients through a “green audit” to identify what may or may not be needed. Sometimes they believe a client just needs to regroup what is already in place. “This is the best form of reuse,” says Beth. The Yurichs embraced sustainable practices since the 90s, as storeowners of Plan•it Safe, at their firm, and Beth as a founding board member for the Earth Day Coalition. In 2008, Beth was awarded Champion of Sustainability by E4S (Entrepreneur’s for Sustainability). The principles are always on the look out to save clients energy, materials and money. “We really are a partner in our clients’ processes,” says Beth “always looking to streamline and save resources.”


Yvette Petrullo, West Lafayette IN

Yvette Petrullo is currently a full-time MFA student at Purdue University as well as a Teaching Assistant. She was formerly an Art Director at Sage Systems in Boston MA and is currently a partner in Re-nourish, an online tool advocating awareness and action for sustainable systems thinking in the communication design community. Her partner at Re-Nourish is Eric Benson, Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She explains: “We are, at the moment, just two people who want to make things better. We believe that 'good design' values people, the environment, and improves lives. Instead design is currently on an unsustainable path centered on overconsumption, waste, and ignoring the natural systems around us. Re-nourish aims to help the practicing communication designer, educator and student make positive greener and pragmatic design decisions.

“My goal as a designer is to pursue the reduction of waste as a design concept and explore how I can lead students, clients, and myself in re-thinking sustainable design. From my professional experience I have found people very receptive to implementing sustainability into their projects. Clients are happy and pleasantly surprised when I can even cut costs by designing sustainably.


Hybrid3, Seattle WA

Hybrid3 has been hard at work in Seattle since Y2K. Principal Michael Stearns explains that “we love the smell of ink on paper, but certainly extend the brands of our clients onto the web and digital media. Our creativity and solutions are rooted in the belief that a brand and a business is a fluid process of evolution that flows and reacts to the push/pull of the marketplace, our culture, and certainly the economy.”

“Kermit was right. It’s NOT easy being GREEN. Sometimes it costs more in the short term. Being mindfully green has been a good long term business strategy before the term was invented...It keeps our clients and us on our toes, flexing our resourcefulness and mastering efficiency.

Rachel Martin Design, Charlotte NC

Rachel Martin Design is a sustainable and socially responsible collaborative design studio producing creative solutions to help businesses and non-profits build unique brand messages with positive social and environmental impacts. The firm considers the full life cycle of a project and develops inventive approaches by specifying fewer materials, using recycled and non-toxic elements and works with local vendors whenever possible, reflecting environmentally-friendly expertise and a deep commitment to sustainiblity.

“We believe in doing good design and partnering with good people who want to make a difference. Sustainable design is the core of our studio, and a reflection of who we are and how we live our lives. We don’t think of it as a marketing angle but as an opportunity to engage clients in discussion about sustainability and work together with them to find ways to make positive change within their business.”

Lara McCormick, New York NY

Lara McCormick is a designer in New York City as well as a teacher. She offers Citizen Designer, a continuing education course at the School of Visual Arts, because: “As a designer, I reached a point where I’m able to selectively work on projects I believe in. I wanted to base a course on this idea, where students work on assignments that have to do with things they care about. Borrowing the title from Steven Heller’s book ‘Citizen Designer’ (with his approval), the course focuses on the importance of being a responsible designer.”

“Green design is more than just recycled paper. It’s about maximizing the design of things using as minimal resources as possible. I think we’re at a stage where every design solution should be sustainable. We can’t afford to not work this way.”


Dion Zuess, Phoenix AZ

“Sustainable design is smart design” is Dion Zuess’s mantra. As Creative Director at her studio, ecoLingo, Zuess applies this catch phrase to all aspects of her work, whether she is using design ecology or systems methodology in a project for a client, expert-sourcing for a non-profit or Fortune 500 company, writing, or teaching sustainable design to students. An eco designer for over a decade, Zuess knows firsthand how greening one’s workflow and business in an authentic way creates new opportunities. The studio is a certified green business dedicated to sustainable design. Zuess is also an adjunct faculty member of MCAD’s Sustainable Design Program. Her knowledge and experience draws clients from across the country who are not only looking for meaningful design, but who are also seeking guidance to ensure that their project matches or exceeds their environmental goals and values.

“Savvy designers, entrepreneurs and business owners know that sustainable design practices lead to clever, world-changing design solutions. Smart design thinking helps to conserve resources and habitats, encourages cultural diversity and, as a bonus, saves energy and money. Going beyond basic eco efforts to ensure that your workplace or supply chain is as environmentally sound as possible is a smart business investment for your business and the planet... Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of sustainable design is that it provides opportunities to make a difference and to effect social change.”

Bridgeman Art Library


Which war did Uncle Sam want you for?
Think you know the answer?
Head to the Visual Connections Image Expo on Thursday October 20th and try your luck at the Bridgeman Wheel of Fortune.

We see prizes in your future. READ MORE >

Design For Good, Toronto Ontario

Design for Good partners with charities, non-profits and businesses that believe creativity has enormous power for positive change and that strong design can move people and get results. More than just socially conscious and environmentally responsible graphic designers, partners Mark Haak and Kelly Shelton sees themselve as part of “a community of passionate thinkers and doers who share your beliefs and invest our energies in ethical organizations that are working together to make a positive and significant impact in our world.” They live this ideal everyday, in everything from running community gardens at their rural studio to traveling the world to work on clean water, schools and job creation projects.

“Offering green design has allowed us to focus on the type of clients and projects that mean something to us. It’s creatively inspiring to work alongside clients who are doing such amazing things around the world and it’s created a niche that allows us to be highly selective of the types of clients we want to work with. The best thing though, is that our clients share our beliefs and realize the value that design can have to bring positive change.”

Stan and Tricia Evenson, Culver City CA

Evenson Design Group’s (EDG) CEO and Creative Director, Stan Evenson, just returned from Burning Man 2011 where social responsibility and sustainability are radically embraced at Black Rock City NV at the highest level. “It filled my tank as I virtually felt I was visiting another planet for the past week, where art, community, love and social responsibility successfully collide,” says Evenson. “It’s taking time out of my busy schedule of raising children, running a brand design business for the past 35 years, and giving back wherever possible, that experiences like Burning Man, as well as being an active member of the Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles that feeds my soul and empowers me to deliver more sustainable concepts for our clients. The journey continues as my wife and business partner, and President of EDG, Tricia Evenson, is on a path that builds community in both business and personally.” The Evensons bring their outside influences to clients on a daily basis in order to. Influenced by Tricia’s community project of “greening” their youngest son’s school, they saw the need to shift from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. This past year, they co-chaired the competition that acknowledges the best design thinking for social responsibility and sustainability, 2011 AIGA (Re)design Awards.

“Creating environmentally responsible designs that not only preserve our natural resources but also sustain the client’s is a marketing initiative that has to be integrated into everyone’s agendas. On every project, we engage in a conversation about sustainability.”

Beth Singer Design, Arlington VA

Beth Singer founded Beth Singer Design in 1981 on her twin passions for great design and giving back to the community. Since then, the work has raised millions of dollars, changed minds, opened hearts and inspired ordinary people to act on their ideas for the greater good. The firm works closely with advocacy groups, government, health organizations, educational institutions, museums and cultural groups, and corporations to achieve their goals through design solutions. Most clients have been with the firm for more than 10 years and turn to it to conceptualize, design and produce communication strategies, brand and identity programs, marketing and educational materials, advertising campaigns, annual reports, books and booklets, exhibits and stages, websites and multimedia presentations. The caliber and quality of the work has been widely recognized with more than 100 peer and industry awards.


Kalico Design, Frederick MD

Located in Frederick, MD, just a short distance from Baltimore and Washington DC, Kalico Design is a boutique, home-based graphic design studio. Specializing in print design, the firm work closely with clients to generate fresh and thoughtful solutions for their marketing and design needs. While Kalico has a large variety of clients, from start-ups to national associations, its passion is to work with those in the health/wellness, organic, holistic and women-oriented industries.

“The bottom line is this: our sustainable practices are an inherent part of our business model, not what ultimately defines us. We enjoyed working with business at every stage of their ‘greening’ process, be it novice, intermediate or advanced (and we enjoy learning along the way as well!)”