Michael Bierut’s How to Use Graphic Design to … (Harper Collins) is a compilation of a remarkable 35 year career in graphic design. Bierut has been a partner at Pentagram New York for 25 years, and before that he worked for the famed Massimo and Lella Vignelli, at Vignelli Associates. He is a past president of AIGA and he cofounded Design Observer. He says, “It was curiosity that led me to join Jessica Helfand, Rick Poynor, and the late Bill Drenttel in creating Design Observer. Writing about design was a way for me to think about the work we designers do, why we do it, and the effect it has on the world.”
In fact, his book, takes a deep look at his design journey and his life. Bierut’s frank commentary on what it takes to become a good designer is honest, compelling, and humbling as he shares his insights and his work, including his beloved collection of sketchbooks (more than 200 to date). There are more than 36 projects featured from start to finish that span his career and speak to the remarkable influence his work has had in the world.
TCG: What skills do you believe are most pivotal to graphic designers today?
Michael Bierut: I’ll just assume you know all the necessary software programs. The most important trait is curiosity. Can you get interested in the subject matter behind what you’re designing? Can that interest sustain you over the course of the project? Most importantly, can you tap into your enthusiasm as you search for design solutions?
In the spirit of holiday giving, we asked several creatives to tell us how they give back to causes they are passionate about. Whether it’s donating money, time, or belongings, every little bit matters to those who are in need. We hope their stories inspire you to pay it forward this holiday season and all year long.
Create Art for a Cause
Salli S. Swindell has taken part in an annual event for the past 15 years called the Christmas Stocking Competition, which is held at The Grey Colt in Hudson, Ohio. The event rallies artists, crafters, and DIY’ers to create a handmade stocking using any medium or materials. The stockings are revealed at a preview party in the shop, and then on display in the window the following week. “People buy raffle tickets to win a stocking and the proceeds are all donated to a local cause,” Swindell says.
About 60 stockings are submitted each year garnering an average of $6,000. “The preview party is such a fun and festive event. It’s amazing how creative people get with their stocking entries. Over the years I’ve seen carved wooden stockings, garlands made of clay stockings, every kind of fabric and stitching, and even an evening gown in the shape of a stocking! Many of us here in town start thinking about our concept in the summer. It’s a super cool event that connects the community in a creative way and helps a local cause.”
In recent years, lettering and calligraphy have experienced a resurgence in popularity. These two art forms have a strong kinship and are well worth exploring. You’d be well advised to understand their differences before listing them in your portfolio, though.
Martina Flor and Giuseppe Salerno challenged each other a couple of years ago to a competition of sorts. They created a site called Lettering vs Calligraphy, and each day they would create a letter—Flor, a letterer and Salerno, a calligrapher— “to explore the capabilities of the two technical approaches.” Here, they discuss the finer points between the two practices and talk about the competition and recent projects.
What is hand lettering and how is it different from calligraphy and type design?
Martina: Lettering is essentially drawing letters. While type design focuses on creating a full alphabet that works in all its possible combinations, lettering often deals with just a word or phrase. These are drawn for a particular use and no fonts are involved.
Lettering and calligraphy have a doubtless relationship. However, the different nature of each (lettering is drawing, calligraphy is writing) has an impact on the artwork. While lettering often imitates the spontaneous movement of writing, it is the result of careful decision-making. It is the product of determined calculation on how that curve or shape should look. In this sense, lettering and type design are design-related disciplines, whereas calligraphy stands on the side of art. Read the rest of the article here.
We see posters everywhere, but truly remarkable ones are rare. Here, James Victore shares advice on how to bend clichés to create memorable poster designs that matter.
Design legend James Victore does not mince words. “People think graphic design is a visual art and it’s not; it’s an idea-based business and the visuals are just the teaspoon of sugar that we use to get these ideas across,” says Victore, who recently taught a CreativeLive course titled Bold & Fearless Poster Design.
“My own work isn’t pretty,” says the acclaimed and influential designer, author and activist. “People don’t buy my work because it matches their furniture.” Read the full article here.
Each year Command X, AIGA’s reality show-style, live design competition pits seven young designers against one another in daily elimination challenges, and is one of the most anticipated events at the AIGA Design Conference. Last week we introduced you to the contestants, and just a few days ago we sat rapt as the host, the ever-charming and enigmatic Sean Adams (former president of AIGA’s national board) and a star-studded panel of judges—Aaron Draplin, Robynne Raye, Gail Anderson, plus a special guest judge each day—took over the stage. Read the rest here.
Having recently passed the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, it’s evident that New Orleans is still recovering from the devastation caused by the storm. Although the city has come a long way in rebuilding, there are still so many underserved areas in the city with infrastructure problems and a lack of available resources. But one group that’s actively working with community groups to provide design solutions to areas in need is Tulane City Center (TCC), led by Suzanne-Juliette Mobley, who will be part of a panel at the AIGA Design Conference in New Orleans called “Central City by Design: Community-Driven Change in Action.”
As TCC’s community engagement manager, Mobley does a little bit of everything. “I help identify potential community-based and university partners, develop our strategy on projects, work with students on research techniques, manage events hosted in our storefront, develop panels on critical issues facing our city, and right now, I’m working on an exhibit that will be up during the AIGA Design Conference.” Read full story here.
We’ve all heard the term “design thinking,” freely bandied about, but what does it really mean and can only creative people apply this in their work? “No,” says designer, educator, author Matthew Jervis, founder of Make It Creativity. He teaches design thinking to anyone who will have him—from teachers and students (sometimes as young as middle-schoolers) to bureaucratic administrators.
Every person has the capacity to be creative—not just designers and artists. Being creative is instinctual. It’s a set of basic survival skills that have evolved over time and continue to evolve…and not in a positive direction.
“The definition of creativity has veered off in present day to be more defined in emotional and expressive terms,” he says. “This modern definition is wrong and creates more problems, while marginalizing a vast swath of humankind. When we describe people who might like to draw, write, or who might think a little differently as ‘creative,’ we are missing what creativity really is and actually doing a huge disservice.”
Jervis points out that our ancestors needed to be creative to survive. “We ran buffalo off cliffs because we needed to eat and clothe ourselves, since we didn’t have horses yet. We needed to be creative. What’s the best way to run them off a cliff? Where is the nearest cliff? How do we keep from running ALL the buffalo off the cliff?”
He approaches the creative process and design thinking with the idea that it’s a way of living and approaching everyday challenges… not just for designers working with clients. “The ability to see a challenge as an opportunity is key to thinking creatively,” he simply states.
“I feel that parenthood/childcare/teaching are some of THE best examples of design thinking as well as being some of the most creative endeavors out there.” he says. Here is a list of ten tactics devised by Jervis that parents—or anyone for that matter–can deploy in a challenging situation.
Whether it’s a kid having a temper tantrum, or running out of gas on your way to work. How we react to and deal with the circumstances is key to coming up with the best solution. Read rest here.