Doing Good with Graphic Design

By Sandy Glass

I was touched by my students’ care, work ethic, creativity and skill set as they shared their logo design solutions for an optional assignment in the Logo, Icon and Symbol Design Class I teach in Bellevue College’s Graphic Design Certificate Program. The logo design assignment was shared as a Creative Brief focusing on the mission of the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild, a foundation initiated by Heather and John Kahan to apply research and analytics to study Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. All eleven students participated in the design challenge. In all, dozens of designs were created by the students in the “Logo, Icon and Symbol Design” portfolio-building class.

The Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild funds research focusing the sudden and unexplained death of infants younger than one year old: the number one cause of infant deaths in the United States.  Researchers from Seattle Children’s Hospital, New York University, Langone Medical Center, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Virginia, University of Auckland, and University of Bristol are working together in partnership on this effort.  Microsoft data scientists have volunteered thousands of hours, and Microsoft Philanthropies has donated Azure cloud resources, to support this work. The guild was named in honor of Aaron Matthew Kahan, son of Heather and John Kahan, who died of SIDS days after his birth in 2003.

The solutions created by the graphic design students were diverse, thoughtful, creative and professionally executed. All were portfolio worthy. I played the role of Art Director and shared the potential logo designs with Heather Kahan who narrowed the logos down to four finalists. Heather and John Kahan were so grateful for this opportunity to brand their guild.

Erik Salmela was humbled and honored that one of his designs was chosen to represent the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild. He then had an opportunity to meet with Heather to finalize the logo.

Above is the final logo designed by Erik Salmela that is used by the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild. In his artist statement, Erik notes that he was inspired by a research photo from the AMSRG website. He used the idea to create an organic shape. He also took care to create a color palette that compliments the colors used the Seattle Children’s Hospital Guild Logo. Erik incorporated a butterfly in his design as a symbol of hope emerging from the data.

“Thank you both SO MUCH for your efforts in creating a new logo for us!  We couldn’t be more excited!  Erik, we fell in love with your design!”

~ Heather and John Kahan


For more information about the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild:


For more information about the Bellevue College Graphic Design Certificate Program:

Last Updated March 1, 2019