Innosanto Nagara is best known as the founder of Design Action Collective. His work is grounded in the philosophy: “do not design in a vacuum.” As a lifelong activist embedded in organizing communities, he always insists that the power of design be harnessed in the service of social change, and in partnership with boots-on-the-ground organizing efforts: “The other side spends millions of dollars annually pushing their agenda. But they are pushing a boulder uphill. They are selling ideas that are against people’s interests. They are selling products that people don’t need. In a world where we do judge a book by its cover, we do have to engage them on that battlefield. But we can do it for a lot less because we are pushing for what people want and need. We can dislodge that boulder. But to do that, we have to engage.”
Inno started doing graphic design in the service of social change as a student at UC Davis in the late 80s. After college, he moved to San Francisco where he did graphic design for local community groups as Jaguar Design: Design for Social Change. In 1995 he joined the Inkworks Press—a leading political printing collective in Berkeley, California. It was during his seven years at Inkworks that Inno developed and expanded the design philosophy and practice that he champions until today. In 2003 Inno founded Design Action Collective. Starting as two-person studio in the living-room of his house. Over the next sixteen years, Design Action grew and expanded into a fourteen-member collective offering print, web, new media, and strategic communications services to the Movement.
In 2012 Inno published his first children’s book, A is for Activist, that quickly became a bestseller, and launched his “second career” as a children’s book author and illustrator.
Today Inno divides his time between writing and illustrating social justice-themed children’s books, and doing graphic design, art direction, and creative communications for individuals and organizations he cares about.
The Jordan College of the Arts would like to thank the following donors for their generous support of the Spring 2021 JCA Signature Series:
William and Susan Kleinman
Dr. Marianne Williams Tobias