1974-2002: Before Design Action, there was Inkworks Press

Design Action Collective began as an offshoot of Inkworks Press Collective (1974-2015). Founded as a “Marxist-Leninist Socialist Feminist” printing collective, Inkworks was a worker-owned, democratically run, union shop that served the Bay Area’s radical and progressive organizations for more than 40 years. 

Design Action’s founders were members of Inkworks Press who started design services in-house after it became clear that design was an urgent need for the clients Inkworks served. However, they soon realized those needs would be better served by an independent shop that could collaborate in a larger ecosystem of services. So, Design Action (a play on “direct action”) was born.

In the decades Inkworks was active, thousands of pages of political art rolled off their presses. They collaborated with hundreds of artists who were long-standing players in their communities and movements for social justice. (The Inkworks Press poster archive preserves some of the amazing work they printed.) Much of our early structure, by-laws, and co-op practices we owed to them.

2002 Onward: Rooted in resistance to war, white supremacy, and U.S. imperialism

Design Action Collective was founded in 2002, in the post-9/11 years when the PATRIOT Act and the Bush administration’s imperialist war-mongering shaped campaigns for human rights.

In 2004, we officially incorporated, with help from the Association of Arizmendi Cooperatives. We celebrate our anniversary on May 1, the date we first went on payroll as a shop and in honor of International Workers Day. 

Our work and our politics continue to evolve with the movement’s needs and with each new collective member who joins us. To find out more, read about Our Team.