Students interview designers

Here is an article where a student gets to interview a famous former student of her school.
The questions and responses are excellent.—mariel-lustig-and-michael-bierut


Thanks for sharing! Michael Bierut always struck me as a super-sharer of his wisdom while still being grounded. He’s come to NZ to speak a couple of times and I always got such a boost of creative energy from seeing him.

1 Like

This is a very shallow observation, but Michael Beirut has never struck me as looking anything like a stereotypical designer. If it didn’t know who he was, and somebody asked me what he did for a living, I’d guess that he was an accountant or a postal clerk.

If he would just wear a black t-shirt, get some funkier glasses, put away that dark business suit jacket, grow a beard or something, I could relate to the guy a little better. I love his work, but I just have this mental disconnect between that work and his photo. Like I said, though, a shallow observation that’s probably confined to just me. :neutral_face:

i kinda see your point.
but if have to say that to me his black suit and clean look is nothing else then my black shirt and jeans — an everyday outfit. You chose it once so that you don’t have to worry everyday about what you look like.
He just decided to keep his look more corporate, due to the position he’s in and the clients he has.

Unfortunately, the link doesn’t work for me… but if it really is just a written interview, i advise you to watch some of his talks (e.g. at google). He is a down-to-earth and extremely likable design nerd, just like we all are.

B, I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not. LOL.
When we get design school tours through here it really is kind of funny how the dress code falls into two groups. All dressed in black for men and women, the men with goatees and/or slicked back hair though more of the lumbersexual look lately (high and tight with big beards); or some of the women dressed in oversized sweaters, with scarfs and leggings. Kind of like a uniform.

Granted artists are usually a little more…shall we say…individual…when it comes to their own personal appearance. But it isn’t necessarily a requirement. I work with some really “unique” individuals, while others are more professorial or engineer-like. Clothes don’t make the man (or woman.)

I’m not at all saying that Michael Beirut (or anyone else) should conform to stereotypes. I’m just noticing that he, for whatever reason, chooses not to look the part, which might just be more of a demonstration of his individuality than if he did.

not to derail, but figured I’d speak my mind because it’s relevant… is it weird that I’m a designer and don’t care about famous designers? I often see others mention these “great” designers by name, as if they should be well known for “reasons.” I’ve never heard of Michael Beirut (or any of the other people he mentioned in this interview). Should I know him? What’s to know?

Maybe I’m jaded, but I’ve always been under the impression people that are famous for design aren’t actually the person doing all the design work.

Not from my seat.

It’s not that I don’t recognize the significance of certain figures in history, but the way I see it, individuals who achieve celebrity status in graphic design are exceptions—interesting perhaps in ways, but studying or following them is a fairly meaningless activity, IMO. I’d say the same about celebrity chefs, clothing designers, and just about any crop of well-known “gurus.”

Like you, a list of famous graphic designer names I’d know is short or essentially non-existent. In fact, I might be looking at a piece of Michael Beirut’s work right now, but it would be no less anonymous than something done by Tony Meatstacks from Brooklyn; and to be frank, that’s how I like it. So much design all around us, both good and bad, that has no designer name associated at all, is better off for that lack of identity (again, IMO). I’m certainly a student of “people,” but almost never the individual.

1 Like

He’s one of the partners at Pentagram. Here’s his bio on Petagram’s site:

No. I don’t concern myself with keeping up with the goings on of celebrities of various sorts either. Even so, there are some people whose fame is difficult to overlook for the simple reason they’re mentioned so often.

In the design world, Michael Beirut is one of those people.

1 Like

he designed the H logo that was ubiquitous throughout her 2016 presidential campaign.

…and suddenly I’m back to not caring who this guy is :joy:

I don’t have a list of designers I know or follow or whatever.
The post was more for the guy’s answers than for who he is.

There’s a whole bunch of these interviews on that website, but this is the first one I’ve read that has any real substance to it. It also shows the design-maturity level of the student asking the questions. Thought some might find it inspiring.

As for arrow logos. I don’t hold it against him. Work is work. Tribalism is a waste of time and angst-energy.

Which I most definitely did. The following advice from him is invaluable:

ML: What do you do when you need inspiration or find yourself stuck?

MB: The typical answers to this question are: ‘go to a museum,’ ‘listen to music’ or ‘take your mind off of it.’ All of those things sort of work. I usually find if I’m at a dead end, it’s because I’ve gotten too wrapped up in refining a graphic solution instead of working the problem itself. So, I stop trying to answer the question, and go back and try to think about the question in a new way.

©2019 Graphic Design Forum | Contact | Legal | Twitter | Facebook