John Avila


I launched Avila Creative in 2011 after 18 years as a senior executive in the Creative group at Edelman, the world’s largest communications firm, where I led a team that provided graphic design to all types of projects across all industries.

My firm, Avila Creative, provides strategic, concept-driven communication design to help clients achieve business success by delivering optimal value to them through the personal attention and agility of a small firm balanced with the expertise of a world-class agency. Although we do all kinds of graphic design, we have focused on socially responsible projects over the past few years.

I am honored to be able to collaborate with our industry’s top designers, writers, project managers, illustrators, photographers, programmers and printers, and to customize teams and personally orchestrate award-winning projects for our clients. Avila Creative is a certified LGBT firm nationally and locally and we are currently working on our MBE certification.

We are proud to support clients including Barilla, Black Directors Health Equity Agenda, Equality Illinois, Finn Partners, GenderCool Project, Green Cola, HarleyDavidson, Howard Brown Health, IVCA, J.Crew, Mars, McDonald’s, Middleby, New York University, RSM, Sage Health, SE10, TEGNA, Walgreens Boots Alliance and the Walder Group.

Tell us how and why you became involved in socially responsible communications, any thoughts on why design can be an especially effective tool for this goal, and, if you wish, give us an example of a project of which you are proud.

After designing annual reports for Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits for 20 years, transitioning to CSR/sustainability and, more recently, ESG and DEI reports, has been a natural progression. At this point in my career, working on mission-driven work that reflects my own values is more important to me than ever. The killing of George Floyd in 2020 and other injustices increased my passion for using my expertise and experience to help companies and organizations show their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion through their own work — specifically helping them showcase their efforts in a genuine way using design and content to help tell a compelling DEI story with high-impact graphics, illustrations and photography.

We are proud to have produced Walgreens Boots Alliance’s (WBA’s) multi-award-winning global DEI report. We worked with fine artist Sydney James to help bring our “mural” concept to life throughout the report.

We also are proud of our partnership with the McDonald’s DEI team to produce its first global DEI report. It started as a microsite and grew into an interactive PDF and a printed companion to ensure greater accessibility. We worked with UK illustrator Ana Jenks. Ana is part of the LGBTQIA+ community and is neurodiverse (ADHD diagnosed).

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?

The transition to digital from print over the last two decades highlights the importance of accessibility, so everything we design is accessible across all communication platforms to reach as many audiences as possible. Unfortunately, strict online accessibility compliance can sometimes strip online layouts of color, imagery and animation, so it is critical to partner closely with clients and designers at the start to ensure the final product does not lose its impact. While this poses some design challenges, we now see it as an opportunity for designers to find new ways to innovate design for all audiences.