Watched a brainless movie on the plane. Drew Barrymore was asking Hugh Grant, “What if Dylan walks up to you and says that your songwriting is bad?” Then follows a verbal exchange in which Hugh Grant refers to his songs as dessert whereas Dylan is dinner. Which is hilarious.
It is a scary thought though.
What if J M Brockmann comes to me and says that my grid is bad? What if Paul Rand says my logo is bad? What if Brodovitch says my layout is bad? What if Tibor says my content is crap? What if Spiekerman says my design does not communicate? What if Sagmeister says my design doesn’t touch hearts?
Lately, I have been noticing designers who have no idea who Tibor or Brockman or Rand is. Absolutely no resonance when these names are mentioned. Maybe it is easy to put the blame on the education system, or more directly, blame it on the faculty who never enlightened them with a crash course in graphic design history. It could be that the school’s library is poorly funded, and Richard Hollis’ a concise history of graphic design or Megg’s history of graphic design never made it to the shelves. However in the Google age, all these are irrelevant – information is so readily accessible – if one wants to search and knows what to search for. A keyword search on Paul Rand easily brought 1.75million results (Tibor, 818K; Josef Muller Brockman 125K; Brodovitch 42.8K).
I have also met designers who don’t have any design heroes. The common claim is that not knowing is good, for that doesn’t interfere with design thinking, hence the creation process is entirely original. Brockman’s shadows will impose a visible claustrophobic grid onto the design process, while the four words “what would Tibor do” would drastically change the editorial direction and introduce un-design into the design. Not knowing is to start from tabula rasa – fresh and empty. Working with this group of designers could be frustratingly difficult though – “Can you be more Josef-Brockmann meticulous with your grids?”–“Who’s that?”; “Can we try a Tibor way of looking at this?”–“Who’s that?”
I don’t know any serious guitarist who doesn’t have a guitar hero. How can he not? But how can a serious designer not have a design hero? Sagmeister notoriously stalked Tibor; John Bielenberg seeking Michael Vanderbyl; and more recently, witnessing Vince Frost publicly acknowledging and thanking Brody for being the major influence on his interests in editorial design works.
Tibor Kalman was the single most influential person in my design life and my one and only design hero. 15 years ago, as a student in NYC, I called him every week for half a year and I got to know the M&Co receptionist really well.If I were to put this in my terms, if one has no idea what dinner is, he will forever be gulping dessert for dinner. For the record, I wish to be able to serve not just dessert, but dinner too.Stefan Sagmeister
I have my share of heroes.
Petrula Vrontikis sums this up nicely:
Many of those who inspire us have no idea of their ongoing influence on our work, ideas and creative process.
If I were to put this in my terms, if one has no idea what dinner is, he will forever be gulping dessert for dinner.
For the record, I wish to be able to serve not just dessert, but dinner too.