AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION, CHICAGO IL
Elmarie Jara (she/her/hers) is an award-winning Filipina American graphic designer specializing in brand development, editorial design, and visual marketing communications. Currently, she works at the American Bar Association (ABA) leading the creative of a variety of projects advocating for the legal profession and the rule of law. She is also the lead designer for the ABA Fund for Justice and Education (ABA/FJE) — the 501(c)(3) charitable arm of the ABA responsible for supporting its law-related public service, policy, and education programs.
Early in 2022, she joined the South Shore Drill Team & Performing Arts Ensemble as a consulting brand designer, co-leading their marketing initiative as the organization continues to engage Chicago inner-city youth throughout their critical teenage years to mitigate the dangers of gangs, drugs, and violence, and guide members towards completing their education.
Recently, she volunteered her time and creativity to produce specimen images for the first Filipina American-owned font foundry, Font Infusions — founded by brand designer Aireen Arellano. Font Infusions champions socially conscious creators who long to share their stories.
How did you become involved in socially responsible communications and why do you believe design can be an effective tool for this goal?
I believe design plays a crucial role in how we navigate the world around us, despite uncertain times and the speed with which we consume information. When done with possibilities in mind, it can be more powerful than words — motivating action for good … and bad. It impacts us all, therefore we must work beyond the comfort of our design apps to learn and understand our communities. Designing for good is the embodiment of shared experiences. We are more compelled to act when we experience a deeper connection with the visual commentary. To create it, understanding perspectives beyond our own is critical.
I am very fortunate to work for the American Bar Association because of the many initiatives it organizes to benefit all peoples. For the past three years, I’ve been leading the design and contributing to the success of the ABA/FJE annual ABA Giving Day in which we highlight good works organized by many ABA entities. We leverage the national stage of the ABA to connect our constituents with programs that support marginalized and diverse communities in need of assistance and visibility. We shape the visuals to include familiar ABA brand assets to instill familiarity and trust, while allowing space for imagery to tell visceral stories inspired by the programs and the individuals we serve. Engaging and easy-to-implement outreach journeys are curated on multiple platforms to be shared by all ABA entities involved. Last year, ABA Giving Day raised an incredible $252,000! This October, we hope to raise more than $300,000.
Given the confluence of events and challenges our society now faces, does this moment in time present any special opportunities, urgencies, obstacles to designing for good?
Designing for good also means being able to make good design accessible for those who may not be able to afford it. We’ve seen do-it-yourself apps make this a reality and successful for many. But good design doesn’t always equate to impact. So how do we secure the value of good and impactful design while making it accessible for those who aspire to DO good? Create work for causes you care about and share it freely. Along this journey, you’ll find others who will forge a deep connection to your message. Engage them to use your work to activate and amplify their own voice. When we equip individuals yearning for change with good design, progress happens.