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Here at Partners in Design much of the work we do is primarily for cultural and social organizations and nonprofits. These folks have been our clients for many years and we’re proud of the good work that they contribute to our communities. To reciprocate, each year we try to offer pro bono work to an organization who otherwise couldn’t afford professional design services.

There is no shortage of worthy organizations, but we’d like to share with you one we have begin working with whose mission is particularly important given the results of our recent election—Refugee Women’s Alliance or ReWA.

ReWA serves over 11,000 refugees and immigrants each year in the Puget Sound area. Their staff of 125 collectively speak over 50 languages. Many were ReWA clients themselves. The beauty of ReWA is that they provide a wide range of wrap-around services for every member of refugee and immigrant families—from infants to seniors—designed to make a long-lasting impact of their client’s lives as they transition to a new community. Some examples include their Early Learning Center, ESL classes, employment and vocational training, citizenship classes, domestic violence and behavioral health help, and housing and homelessness prevention.

ReWA is currently in the middle of a Capital Campaign to open a 5000 sf addition to their main center int he Rainier Valley in order to serve even more clients at a critical time in our nation’s history.

If you’d like to help, here’s an opportunity. Next Friday, Feb 24th, ReWA is hosting a special benefit with Seattle Shakespeare’s Bring Down the House Part 1, an adaption of Shakespeare’s Henry VI   adapted by Rosa Joshi and Kate Wisniewski.

The $60 ticket price includes pre-show hors d’oeuvres reception (cash bar), admission to Bring Down the House, Part 1, post-show conversation with the cast, and a $37 donation to ReWA’s Capital Campaign.

Purchase your tickets through the Friends of ReWA page to support ReWA and see a great performance at the same time!

For more information on ReWA, visit their website at


Our main character “B” is questioning the things people are labeling him. Sometimes what people say make him feel proud. Then they seem confused by him and they say hurtful things. They don’t seem to fit B’s true self. B has both his best friends, and bigger than life bullies to contend with. In B’s classroom his 2nd grade teacher has posted the equal rights of every student… perhaps all classrooms should have their own Classroom Civil Rights. Here’s the poster B depends on. Our book “B in the World” is published and available online,


We are designers and communicators by trade… working with people as diverse as people who dig for dinosaur bones, to tech geeks running the world from Seattle. Our clients have missions and we craft words and images to express the best of each client. And our designers have opinions too… for example we’re scared of guns on the loose. We design for companies, communities, people and causes. Good graphic design prompts you to think for yourself… not feed you answers.


We believe the best graphic design prompts you to think for yourself… not feed you answers. A design may challenge you to learn or interpret meaning. The message may inspire you to take action. We were asked to create a series of posters in response to the Newtown tragedy and gun violence. Since so many argue that the Second Amendment is for our protection… we wondered why innocent victims were targets.

Guns are weapons, but against who? We dedicate these posters to Grace who wanted to be an artist (maybe a designer). Follow “Demand a Plan” for useful strategies.




Communication is is an invaluable tool for emergency management. In the mix of public and commercial clattering, messaging has to be clear, quick, appealing, instructive and effective at the cost of lives lost if unsuccessful. Who is responsible? In more and more communities, an autonomous Department of Emergency Management (DEM) provides a vital link.

So when we were approached a year or so ago by the San Juan County DEM we were excited to be part of an important effort. These graphics needed to speak broadly to an isolated island-vulnerable community in Northwest Washington and our challenge was to fuse words and graphics together into a meaningful and high-performance dialogue.

But like the child who avoids the chastising parent, it was likely that a citizen might avoid hearing the truth and stepping up to meet the demands of disaster preparedness. Few among us spontaneously wake on a Saturday morning thinking, “Hmm, perhaps today I’ll gather all that I need in case of a disaster.” So, along with the DEM, we developed a graphics program that added a little fun to the challenge.

Sometimes the distance between safety and all-hell-breaking-loose can be very close. We developed graphic symbols to explain possible scenarios, and put them into not-so-serious contexts.


Think of it this way—a storyteller leads listeners into a cautionary tale with some levity (perhaps a joke) but invariably the tale they tell examines a world undergoing transformative, and sometimes undesirable, change. Instead of overwhelming an audience with hard facts, humor helps to diffuse the potential impact and gets people thinking. Know the risks, make a plan, get your supplies. When it launched, the graphic program created a bit of a buzz with t-shirt designs that became walking billboards for the DEM. The sinking ship or burning bunny are edgy, but they never lose touch with reality.


This summer, we followed up with a new campaign, dipping into the absurd with a “What if?” series for the DEM. Aliens are attacking the lighthouse! Zombies are going after your sheep! Our island-dwelling audience may be still laughing but we’re hopeful they’re also busy putting together their survival kits.


In today’s divisive political climate, here’s a New Year’s resolution from Partners in Design. Let’s each of us use our talents for the greater good. Do something, say something about what you believe in. Design something.

Join us this Sunday, January 13 in Seattle for a rally against gun violence in Washington state sponsored by Stand Up Washington.

Change starts at home.




October 11 is National Coming Out Day, first held on October 11, 1988. This date was chosen for the annual event in commemoration of the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights. It also marks the anniversary of the first visit of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to Washington, D.C.. National Coming Out Day is a time to publicly display gay pride. Many choose this day to come out to their parents, friends, co-workers and themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

You call it pro bono, a phrase derived from Latin meaning “for the public good”… on top of that, without charging for it. But around here we call it “doing good”. It’s an apex of humanity. It comes in all forms… from simple random acts of kindness to giving your own blood. For a designer it often means offering visual communication skills to amplify a message that you believe in. Sometimes you identify with the cause, and sometimes it pushes beyond your usual comfort zone… helping in situations outside your comprehension. Here’s one we did for Safe School’s Coalition here in Washington State.


Read the rest of this entry »


Mildred Loving was the wife of a bricklayer. Richard and Mildred married in Washington DC and lived in Central Point, Virginia… where their particular marriage was unlawful. They were awakened in their bed in the middle of the night with the glare of flashlights turned on them by local authorities. The year was 1958. Mildred’s “crime” was she loved and married a white man. She was part black and part Indian

In 1963 she wrote in neat script on a piece of lined loose-leaf paper a letter to the A.C.L.U. for help. Their lives hung in stasis during long trials, until 1967 a ruling written by Chief Justice Earl Warren declared “the freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men”

After the landmark ruling, the Lovings turned down all public appearances. Mildred never considered herself a hero. She lived out an ordinary life, happy marriage, 3 kids, a home near family. But Richard died young in a highway accident, killed on the spot. Mildred lost her left eye in the crash. She never remarried, never considered it. Read the rest of this entry »

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