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Design Talk.

Blurbs and rants about graphic design

What is the PGDA?

Purpose, Aim and Code of Ethics of the Professional Graphic Design Association

In the past few months a group of like-minded graphic designers have been talking seriously about our profession, where it’s headed along with clients’ needs and expectations. The discussion has resulted in the formation of a graphic design organization supporting the ethics of our business, but focused on clients. The Professional Graphic Designers Association (PGDA).

With the recent events in the design world, it’s apparent the time is OVERripe to bring the PGDA to the industry.

To begin, we’ll be posting online surveys targeted to clients as well as designers. From the information gleaning in these surveys, we’ll tweak the PGDA mission, scope and goals prior to solidifying the organization’s structure. shown below.

Click here to take the Client survey

Click here to take the Designer survey

Follows the PGDA Code of Ethics.

Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Practice

Professional Graphic Designers Association (PGDA) Mission Statement:

“Our mission is to establish, through industry consensus, a code of ethics and standards of professional practices that are targeted toward educating clients about the value of graphic design, as well as creating a smoother working relationship between clients and designers.”


Following are the objectives for the formation of the PGDA:

  1. A strategy for creating professional, ethical, client-focused standards and making these standards easily available.
  2. A strategy for educating clients about the value of marketing and design.
  3. A strategy for the promotion of the PGDA to both clients and designers (grass-roots, viral-marketing, forum-postings, affiliations, use of membership fees for advertisements, etc.).
  4. A strategy for aliances with related graphics and design web sites/organizations and business groups.
  5. Creation of a web site that clients can visit for more information about ethical design practices. The site is to be simple, non-threatening and easily accessible to clients.


In an effort to create a smooth and productive working relationship with every client, members of the PGDA strive to:

  1. Always act in the best interests of the client and the client’s business.
  2. Always work with contracts for the mutual protection of themselves and clients, abide by said contracts, and never unreasonably withdraw services.
  3. Always engage in ethical business practices, which include maintaining honest and forthright communications with clients, avoiding hidden fees or costs, and avoiding unsolicited electronic marketing.
  4. Always document all agreements with clients and keep accurate records.
  5. Always protect the privacy and rights of clients by never inappropriately disclosing information about a client’s business, and avoiding conflicts of interest.
  6. Always represent themselves, their skills and the PGDA accurately and professionally.
  7. Always promote client education of best practices in the areas of design and/or marketing.

Members of the PGDA also endeavor to maintain the highest level of integrity in our profession, and promote the value and legitimacy of design and marketing by:

  1. Never working on speculation or for the promise of future payments or work.
  2. Never plagiarizing the works of others, or knowingly infringing upon copyrights or trademarks.
  3. Never creating work that disregards the health and safety of the community, or is blatantly discriminatory or offensive.
  4. Never using work for the purpose of self-promotion without the knowledge and consent of clients.
  5. Never reselling or repurposing finished works to other clients.
  6. Never sacrificing design quality or integrity, no matter how small the project.
  7. Never misrepresenting involvement or failing to attribute proper credit for collaborative or work-for-hire projects.
  8. Never using unattributed/uncredited text, articles or other materials the designer did not create for the purpose of self-promotion or self-marketing.
  9. Never allowing skills and knowledge of the industry to stagnate or fail to evolve.

Furthermore, the members of the PGDA make the following promises for every project:

  1. We strive for excellence in branding, aesthetic design, and visual communication, with the goal of improving the business of every client.
  2. We strive for excellence in the quality of every project, so that they are free of mistakes and technically sound in order to achieve efficient production.
  3. We strive for excellence in communication with every client and production contact so that every step of the project flows smoothly.

Benefits to Clients

  1. A centralized location for information regarding ethical and professional standards within the graphic design industry.
  2. Protection (in the form of working with members) from unethical business practices.
  3. A forum for airing grievances and concerns or offering suggestions for the industry.
  4. A means to find designers who have vowed to uphold the principles of the PGDA as working with members of the PGDA will ensure a smoother, more productive experience.
  5. A means for education about the design industry, including best practices and benefits for professional-quality marketing and design.
  6. A means for exposure of their business / service through case-studies, announcements, press releases, etc.

Designer benefits:

  1. One compact site where clients can be sent to learn about ethical business practices.
  2. The PGDA can be used as a marketing and promotional tool, and profiles/portfolios for paid members can provide additional exposure.
  3. The promotion of the PGDA, through press releases and articles, will help to promote all members.
  4. Low-cost membership fees.


The formation of certification, testing or any other criteria to “officially” recognize what constitutes a Graphic Designer is NOT part of the PGDA Mission Statement. The PGDA is intended as a resource for providing examples of ethical guidelines and “best practices,” all intended to better educate clients about the values and benefits of professional quality graphic design and marketing. The goal is to create a more trusting and smoother working relationship between clients and designers.

Part of what will help to establish trust, at least early in the life of the PGDA, is to remain as much of a resource as possible, rather than a governing or policing body. In that light, the “official” policy of the PGDA should be to remain neither explicitly for nor against certification. (Besides, we do not have the US$ half a million++ to jumpstart a project of that magnitude.)

Please note: for now, any updates can be found on Robert Wurth’s site at Freshly Squeezed Design

Special thanks to Catherine Wentworth for permission to reproduce this article and the PGDA’s Code of Ethics.

Creative Latitude

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