Graphic Designer Combines Art and Sustainability

Eco-friendly design firm Designarchy's logo

Tania Kac, owner of Designarchy, sustainable graphic design firm

Tania Kac, owner of Designarchy, sustainable graphic design firm. Photo: Courtesy Tania Kac

It takes courage to look at your profession and say, “We are part of the problem.” But Tania Kac, a freelance graphic designer who offers eco-friendly design solutions, does just that.

“We’re generating ideas that end up in the trash,” says Kac. “I’m passionate about design, but I also see how it impacts the environment. We create billions and billions of pieces of trash every year.”

Kac currently operates under the label Designarchy. Her graphic design business, which is based in Iowa, created a portfolio for the 2010 Natural Living Expo in Des Moines.

Prior to that, she worked for a traditional graphic design firm in California. She launched her freelance business in 2005 and left the firm in 2008.

Sustainable Solutions

Stormwater Pollution in the San Francisco Bay chart designed by Tania Kac of Designarchy

Stormwater Pollution in the San Francisco Bay chart designed by Tania Kac of Designarchy. Courtesy: Designarchy

There are two sides to the business of sustainable graphic design: the actions of the graphic designer and the actions of the customer. Kac minimizes her impact on the environment in several ways.

“On my end, there are a lot of things that can be done. There’s water conservation, waste management—and I can reuse paper. I try to use printers that have green operations. They use recycled paper and conserve water,” she explains. “We also offset 100 percent of electricity usage with green tags.”

When energy enters the municipal grid, it becomes impossible to know how it was produced. Green tags, also known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), allow consumers to specify that they want only energy from renewable sources to power their homes and businesses. Green tags both fund renewable energy sources and let companies know that there is a demand for clean energy.

Designarchy is certified by both Green-e and Green America as an environmentally and socially responsible business. But, being socially responsible means Kac must consider more than her own actions, she also has to think about the actions of her customers.

“We try to get our clients to use printers that have green operations,” says Kac.. “The easiest way is to use recycled paper and soy-based inks. But, a lot of printers are still traditional. They’re resistant to change.”

Living Her Values

Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Annual Report designed by Tania Kac of Designarchy.

Kac often volunteers her talents for organizations that she's passionate about. Courtesy: Designarchy

In the design community, Designarchy is unique. “We’re behind other professions, like interior designers or industrial designers,” Kac explains. “In construction, you can be LEED certified anywhere in the country. In graphic design, there’s no easy way to guide people in how to become green.

“Different states have different, if any, voluntary certification programs which are site-specific. For example, Designarchy was the first certified-green graphic design business in Berkeley, California. But, there’s no equivalent Green Business Program in Iowa.

“I decided that I want to create beautiful things, and I want to create solutions that are perfect for my clients. I’m passionate about design, but I also see how it impacts the environment. It’s about minding every decision that you’re making, even in your personal life,” says Kac.

Kac’s green contributions definitely go beyond her business. In addition to her regular clients, she volunteers her services for several environmentally conscious organizations.

“Something that I love to do is help companies that are helping animals in one way or another. My heart is with animals, so I’d like to help organizations that don’t have that much money and are trying to do the right thing.”

Kac has donated work to the Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue, the McDonald Ranch Youth Program and Animal Rescue, Compassionate Cooks, and many other organizations.

Looking to the Future

Book design by Tania Kac of Designarchy.

Book design by Tania Kac of Designarchy. Courtesy: Designarchy.

So, what’s next for Designarchy?

“I want to start offering some simple web packages,” says Kac. “I’ve been working primarily with print.” Kac also plans to redesign the Designarchy website.

“And, the majority of my clients are in the Bay Area or other parts of the country,” she says, “but I really want to focus more on Iowa. I like to have local clients; I like the mix.”

Whatever comes next, Kac says that Designarchy will continue to provide clients with sustainable design solutions.

To learn more about how graphic design can be sustainable, take a look at the resources on the Designarchy website.

“Nobody’s perfect,” Kac says. “I certainly am not. It’s about looking at what you can do, and knowing that you have a power to effect change.”

For More Information

Contact: Tania at Designarchy



Alenka Figa


Blue Planet Green Living