Inspirational Graphic Designers
- The Book Jacket Guy
- The Master Conjurer of the Instantly Familiar
- A Gentleman and a Scholar
- A Designer of Many Stripes
- The Father of Modern Graphic Design
Like architects, composers of music and performance artists, graphic designers are paid well for their creations. Still, graphic design is as much an inspiration-driven and creative pursuit as painting, sculpting, or writing poetry.
The single most important thing these five inspirational graphic designers have in common is their work straddles the line between fine art and pop culture, according to The Professional Association for Design. The second most important thing they have in common is their willingness to share their methods with those who aspire to follow in their footsteps.
1. The Book Jacket Guy
Charles “Chip” Kidd is a book jacket designer extraordinaire. Jurassic Park, written by novelist Michael Crichton and published by highly esteemed Alfred A. Knopf, is one of his most notable. When asked about the thinking behind his design, Chip said, “When trying to recreate one of these creatures, all anyone has to go on is bones, right?” In his highly entertaining TED talk, Kidd said his inspiration came from reading the manuscript and discussing it with the author. He has given lectures at Princeton, Yale, Harvard, to name just a few. He also recently returned to his alma mater Penn State University where he talked about how to “Fail Better.”
2. The Master Conjurer of the Instantly Familiar
Paula Scher is known for her ability to create simple, smart designs. They’re the kind of designs about which people say, “I could have done that.” Upon further thought, they decide “maybe not.” Her visualizations are immediately recognizable and powerful. Her work in helping to brand heavyweights such as Bloomberg, Citibank, Coca-Cola and Microsoft, among many others, keeps her in constant demand. Scher has said boredom is important to her. It’s during her off-the-grid, disconnected times that inspiration seems to pop up out of nowhere. “That seems to be my method,” she has said. Her teaching career includes over two decades at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in Manhattan.
3. A Gentleman and a Scholar
Few design agencies are as respected as Pentagram. One might say being named a partner is the design world’s pinnacle achievement. Along with his fellow partner, the aforementioned Paula Scher, Michael Bierut has won numerous awards for his identity and branding for clients such as Benetton, the New York Jets, Walt Disney and Billboard magazine, which is a small slice of his extensive portfolio. Bierut is also a graphic design critic at the Yale School of Art and a lecturer at the Yale School of Management. He humbly credits his fellow partners at Pentagram for being his source of inspiration.
4. A Designer of Many Stripes
Saul Bass was arguably the most prolific graphic designer of the 20th century. His work encompassed graphic design, poster design, film titles, logos and more. But he did his most iconic work designing motion-picture title sequences for Otto Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, among many others. Bass also designed logos for AT&T, Continental Airlines and United Airlines and a host of other Fortune 500 companies. The fact that many of these designs are still in use today is a testament to the universality of his work.
5. The Father of Modern Graphic Design
To many, Milton Glaser is the father of modern American graphic design. Able to simultaneously think logically and creatively, his conceptual problem-solving skills are legendary. He brings a depth of perspective and understanding to his craft that are unrivaled. The winner of countless awards for his profound and meaningful long-term contributions to the contemporary practice of graphic design, his influence extends beyond the commercial community into the educational community. He has contributed essays and granted many interviews on design. When asked where he finds his inspiration, Glaser has been known to scoff, saying simply, “Art is hard work.”
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The field of graphic design is diverse and it’s form can be physical or virtual. Whether it’s designing road signs, book jackets, posters, ads or avatars, when a message needs to be sent visually, it’s the job of a graphic designer to create it. They often do this as simply as possible, sometimes cleverly, but always with inspiration.