— Jennifer Marie Gonzalez, Hugo & Marie
Getting to work for myself, make my own decisions, make my own mistakes has probably been the biggest influence on starting the company and working independently.
— Louise Fili, Louise Fili Ltd.
I owe my career to three people: Herb Lubalin, who taught me how to design, Harris Lewine, who taught me how to art direct and Steven Heller, who taught me how to write.
— Patrick Seymour, Tsang Seymour
When I was around 8 my big brother agreed to take me to a matinee showing of “Blazing Saddles.” I don’t remember much of the movie but the image on the screen in the first moments of the darkened theater are burned into my memory: it was an animated version of the General Cinema Corporation logo.
Rendered in a single line weight, I remember the “G” as the projector and the two “C”s as the reels, slowly spinning out the characters of the the theater name.
I was transfixed and it awakened a new perception… suddenly I searched everywhere for what I thought of as “messages.” It was definitely the beginning of a lifelong passion for type.
— Michael Bierut, Pentagram
I moved from Ohio to New York the week after I graduated from design school to start my first job: working for Massimo Vignelli. To be brand new in New York and to work for the designer of the signs in the subway and the logo on the Bloomingdale’s bag was a thrill for a kid from the suburbs of Cleveland. It was like being dropped smack dab in the middle of Oz. In some ways I’ve never gotten over it and in some ways I hope I never do.
— Kemp Attwood, AREA 17
The advent of the internet was a monumental influence on my career. As fascinated as I was with graphic design and advertising, it wasn’t until I had learned to connect pages together through hyperlinks and make objects move through virtual space that I knew I had found my calling.
— Justin Fines, Demo
I was primarily inspired by the music and art scene going on during the mid/late 90s in Detroit, MI. The city’s DIYxTechno attitude mixed with the aesthetic wonder of the place itself drove me to want to create things myself.
— Todd St. John, HunterGatherer
I’m very into music, and when I was younger at first thought I would probably be a musician or composer. In music, execution is extremely important. Small formal shifts can make something transcendent. I still think about that a lot.
— Julia Vakser Zeltser, Hyperakt
Being in NYC has had a huge impact on me as a designer. Where else can one be exposed to such a diverse art scene — museums, street art and art community?
— Wyeth Hansen, Labour
Psychedelic poster art, Talking Heads/David Byrne/Brian Eno, Annie and Josef Albers, Hans and Sophie-Tauber Arp, Tintin comics, Barney Bubbles, Wire & Colin Newman, John Baldessari text paintings.
— Roanne Adams, RoAndCo Studio RoAndCo Studio
My first graphic design class at Parsons was taught by a young, whip smart, female graphic designer and business owner named Stella Bugbee. Stella was one of the 3 founding partners of Honest, which was where I had my first internship.
Interning for a studio part-owned by a woman in her mid 20s influenced my decision to go freelance at 25 and start my own design studio.
— Roberta Ronsivalle, Mucca Design
Growing up in Rome, which is an outdoor museum, instilled in me a strong regard for art, architecture and design. My parents also have inspired in me a love for design. Traveling extensively has influenced my perception of the relationship between form and culture, which has always fascinated me.
— Beverly Joel, pulp, ink.
Pretty much everything I know about being a designer and having my own studio I learned from Barbara Glauber. I had the privilege of working with her for 10+ years in what can easily be described as my own private graduate school. That, combined with an infectious enthusiasm for typography instilled by my professors at Cooper Union, left the most indelible imprint on my design brain.
— Lydia Turner, Arch & Loop
A lot of the time when I get stuck on a project I just try to think “what would Tibor Kalman do?” That helps me tap into the wild ideas that were lurking inside me the whole time.
— Jonathan Alger, C&G Partners
Well, everything, really. My wife. Partners. Supportive clients. Things I notice out of the corner of my eye. My children. Listening carefully to people I don’t agree with. The city. Other designers I’ve never met. Reading. Collaborators. Growing up on a farm. Seeing Star Wars in a theater in 1977. Espresso. My children’s friends. Writing and performing music. The history of wristwatches. Architects who gave me a chance as a kid. People on the subway. Interns. Projects I didn’t get. Lego. Lillet. And… everything, really.
— Maya Kopytman, C&G Partners
In 1991 I enrolled in Pratt Institute’s Interactive Multimedia MFA program. We had to write a paper using a piece of software called Hypercard. I’m sure I’m not the only early Mac user that still has a soft spot for its endearing 2-bit display and dithered images along its terrifying, omnipresent bomb icon. Yet, the concept of selecting a word and hyperlinking it to another index card via motion blew my mind at the time, and still does in some ways.
— Matteo Bologna, Mucca Design Mucca Design
Leasing a Mac IIx for the equivalent of $27K and being able to print type with my Apple LaserWriter automatically made me into a graphic designer, at least in the eyes of the Milan design world. I’m still thanking God for how low the bar was set.
— Natasha Jen, Pentagram
I see my professional life as an extension of my personal curiosity, and this curiosity keeps me absorbing things around me.
— Frank DeRose, Zut Alors
I learned a lot working with Jan Wilker & Hjalti Karlsson. I obviously improved as a designer while working with them, but more importantly I learned to try to find joy in what it was that I made (this is basically always possible).