In Memoriam: Jim Ales

On April 20, veteran designer and luminary Jim Ales passed away unexpectedly. Ales was bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Academy of Art University and was selected to be an American Institute of Graphic Arts Fellow in 2015.

Ales founded and operated the Jim Ales Design Office in San Francisco for 10 years working for a variety of nonprofits and corporate organizations. Following this, he spent over 17 years as design director for the Monterey Bay Aquarium. There, he helped build a cohesive vision and direction for one of the most prominent marine wildlife non-profit organizations. He worked with the Aquarium to spearhead its Seafood Watch program to promote sustainable consumption of marine life, resulting in over 200 food service organizations partnering and supporting the program, including Whole Foods. For his work at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and beyond, he was awarded the AIGA Environmental Leadership Award.

Ales was very active in the design community and a vocal promoter of the craft. In life, he shared his wisdom with students and professionals at Arizona State University, AIGA National Center for Sustainable Design and the Art Directors Club of Denver, and his work has been featured in publications, including American Association of Museums Design Awards, How Magazine, Graphic Design Awards and many more.

School of Graphic Design Director Emeritus Mary Scott had this to say in memory of her late colleague and friend: “My most vivid memories of Jim are how much he loved his job (and family, of course) and how proud he was to advance the outreach of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. His brilliant Seafood Watch program made everyone aware [that] Monterey Bay Aquarium cares about the planet and the sustainability of the ocean for generations to come. Thank you, Jim. Your life was a gift to all who have known you.”