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Who Made the Marks?

In the recent discussion about credits Design Maven turned the conversation towards history. In so doing he brought up many names of people he believes have been entirely or partially ignored by historians. And this got me thinking about what makes a particular designer’s contributions important enough to be historically relevant. We know the obvious (canonical) names because they either promoted themselves well, were celebrated throughout their career, were extraordinarily prolific, left behind an icon or two, etc. But until Meggs wrote his book, graphic design history was not taken too seriously. Our historical heros were simply professionals doing their jobs. And some important ones fell through the cracks. It was not unlike the work-a-day movie directors of yore, hired by the studios to follow a shooting script. Only a few real visionaries were considered “artists.” Now, because film is so popular virtually every director is at least considered as potentially historically significant. Likewise, designers look to certain leaders (stars, if you will) as having historical resonance, in part because we like to think of graphic design as more than just a service. If only for our own self-esteem, it is an art with a legacy that demands preservation.

Anyway, a topic of discussion for all of us (and especially the would-be historians) is: Who has exerted major historical influence on the connected fields, graphic design, advertising. typography, and illustration? What well known or unknown individual, studio, or school has made a real and indelible impact on you personally, professionally, even culturally?

We can even break these down into three sometimes overlapping parts.

For me:
Personally: Brad Holland. I first met him when I was 17 and had no idea what the word “typography meant.” He introduced me to type, and its relation to image. He also taught me that illustration needn’t be Norman Rockwell alone, but an expressive, symbolic, and interpretative art form.

Professionally: Herb Lubalin. He was the first art director/designer that caught my eye after entering the field. I copied his typography for years, and never did it as well. He showed that type could be molded like clay. It was sculptural in his hands. He made type speak in pictorial ways.

Culturally: Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser. Like the Beatles they influenced the style of my formative years (the 60s) with images, colors and ideas that made the moment come alive. And I’d also add Victor Moscoso, because building on the basic forms of Push Pin, his psychedelic poster designs were a brand new language designed exclusively for MY generation. His work was a frontal attack on modern universality.

And here’s one more category:

Forgotten: For me Ruth Ansel, who with Bea Feitler, was art director of Bazaar during a formative moment when photography was beginning to overtake illustration as an expressive editorial medium. She went on to art direct the NY Times magazine, Vanity Fair, House and Garden.

Suggested Reading:
Alexey Brodovitch
Graphic Design: A Concise History
The Dictionary of Graphic Designers
American Modernism
Lester Beall
Graphic Design History
Graphic Style
Design Literacy
Graphic Design Timeline

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
PUBLISHED ON Jan.09.2004 BY steve heller
Sarah B,’s comment is:

makes a particular designer’s contributions important enough to be historically relevant

It might simply be that the designer, or work, was "in the right place at the right time" - and noticed by the right people.

Of course... there will always be the instance of a great logo...etc... and the company becomes more known. But I think a part of the "problem" is that you actually have to research in a lot of cases whom actually did the designing.

It is unlike other art in that sense... we do not (usually) sign the bottom of say a poster... and our names do not get recognized.

But until Meggs wrote his book, graphic design history was not taken too seriously.

And that, is definately another reason, I am sure. The university I attended is only NOW considering making "The History of Graphic Design" a class for the Art HIstonians to tackle. Sure, we had a class titled "Design Theory and Crit." - but it was the Megg's book (and a few others - edited by someone named Heller? jk) - we learned from.

Maybe because "Graphic Design" or should I say "Graphic Designer" is such a 'new' profession. ? ( I might be wrong here)

so.. to the real question.. Personally - of course, my college professors, but Clif Meador, mostly. His ideas, and focus, is what kept me in the game. He posed a lot of interesting questions, and I admire his personal work.

Professionally and Culturally - I just have not been working long enough (at the right places) to have an answer... maybe I will post that in a year or two :).

On Jan.09.2004 at 09:16 AM
surts’s comment is:

Pretty intimidating topic.

Personally: Marty Neumeier, I had a chance once to talk with him at the studio where Critique was being made in Palo Alto. After leaving that day design changed for me. I was exposed to a different level of professionalism that I've only seen a couple times since. That day made me want to do a hell of a lot more with design.

Professionally: George Yu, he's an architect but has collaborated with other designers in the past. It was one of the first lectures ever that I was really involved with in planning and had the opportunity to talk with him after the show. He's smart, but there was a contagious optimism that made you think you could do more. He showed me that you could do something creative and be a business.

Culturally: There's lots of books from Pentagram authors that I've found worthy of reading a couple times - they've evolved the way I see things. Fred Woodward has been mentioned in previous posts and has changed the way I see type. Richard Saul Wurman, everything that he has done with ia to ted is pretty inspiring.

On Jan.09.2004 at 10:12 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Some suggested reading has been added at the bottom of the original entry.

On Jan.09.2004 at 10:31 AM
Armin’s comment is:

Personally: Steve Heller. Sorry, I hate to embarras you like this Steve but I have only met two or three people (one of them my wife) who give it to me straight. And make me a better person (and professional) for it.

Professionally: Tough one. I would have to say Rick Valicenti. He sets a high, very hard to reach, standard of professionalism and creativity. And he's funny as hell.

Culturally: … I don't know

Forgotten: P. Scott Makela. Energy and passion.

In regards to the question about "what makes a particular designer’s contributions important enough to be historically relevant."

There are the obvious answers: they must have advanced the profession somehow, demostrated creativity through an extended period of time, challenged the staus quo, created visual, timeless icons (Hello Glaser!). Now that I'm thinking about this, does design history seem like a popularity contest at times? The more people "like" a certain designer the more likely it is that they will be written about?

On Jan.09.2004 at 11:34 AM
Jason’s comment is:

Steve, what a wonderful topic to reflect upon. It's funny, there are these design heroes out there. And how do we distinguish between those who made an impact, and those who were in the public eye momentarily.

Brad Holland, Marshal Arisman, and Mark Frederickson showed me "commercial art." It wasn't until an undergrad class in "graphic design" that I learned the nuance and detail of type, form, and color. A book by Ken Hiebert was our textbook. Graphic Design Processes marveled me. (It's out of print, but you can find his newer book on the shelves.) His approach was so vastly different to me, and the dancing typography inspired me.

Hiebert represents a unique place in design history both educationally and culturally. He brought the Basel techniques across the Atlantic, making them accessible. Hiebert connects design to living. Whether it's the garage sale signage or music or traveling to Greece, he shows us how design exercises relate to our life experiences. In fact, they can be unified into one self. His philosophic approach to design practice should not be overlooked.

On Jan.09.2004 at 11:51 AM
marian’s comment is:

Personally: Stefan Sagmeister. Although I don't know him (aside from having exchanged a few words) his work comes closest to having what I would describe as a personal influence, including revelations.

Professionally: Robert Bringhurst. I worked with him in my early typesetting days, then of course adopted The Elements of Typographic Style as my almost-bible. Alas, someone made off with my autographed copy ...

Culturally: Alphonse Mucha & Peter Max. Two different, but related cultures.

Forgotten: all those crazy monks with their quill pens, tiny brushes and steady hands.

and I'm going to add one:

Ignored: Fred Peters. An amazing calligrapher (worked, I am told, on Peter Greenaway's film "Pillow Book") who was actually one of my instructors in my failed year in art school. I hated him, and in my narrow-mindedness missed a great opportunity to learn from one of the best.

On Jan.09.2004 at 02:25 PM
Ginny ’s comment is:

If only for our own self-esteem, it is an art with a legacy that demands preservation.

I appreciate that you are calling what we do art. At the SeriouSeries #2, there were a lot of professional graphic designers who don't think what we do is art. I think it is. Yes, it's a commercialized form of art...but art none-the-less. But I suppose that should be it's own entry.

Personal:Marcia Lausen She was one of my professors at UIC and not only did I respect her as a designer and teacher, but I really think it was the first time that "I got it", that "aha" moment that happens in graphic design. Yes, it may have had to do with my personal growth as a student and designer, but I still always credit her patience and teaching for that moment. Also, Meow Vatanamorak., my co-worker. I love her work and I seek-out her opinion. She "see's" things differently than I do in and will tell it to me straight.

Professionally:I would have to say Tibor Kalman and Paula Scher. Their solutions always seemed so clever to me. Always putting their personality into their pieces. A step above.

Culturally:Saul Bass. Love his work...all of it! It was so unique, he really had a style of his own and people still copy it! He also took design to the next level, film. No longer was it static in Saul Bass's hands.

On Jan.09.2004 at 02:42 PM
surts’s comment is:

Personally: Steve Heller.

I think most designers would just assume that he'd be on top of the list - I wonder if he sleeps?

On Jan.09.2004 at 07:07 PM
nick’s comment is:

I recall the anecdote about prodigious author Pierre Berton's parties. He would greet guests at the door, then get back to his typewriter. An hour or so later, he would pop back in for a few minutes.

But back to the thread.

OK, we want to get taken seriously. But if that means we need heroes, then our history will become one huge lie. And that's exactly what's happened, because it's based on the narrative thread of modernism, from the Bauhaus, via Great Men who have made Important Innovations, as they have appeared in awards annuals and other industry puff pieces.

(Design Maven's alternate list of unsung greats, were they to be added to the pantheon: more heroes. However, the more the merrier ;-)

Meanwhile, the culture at large, the rank and file of graphic design, have been thoroughly historicist. Even the historicist great men, such as T.M. Cleland, are ignored.

Where did that Old Navy retro thing come from? That is a big part of US design today, but retail gets no respect. Sure, the work of award-winners is meaningful, designwise, in the trade meta-culture -- as a kind of fantasy. But from a mass cultural perspective, and relative to the work that most designers do for a living, it's from another planet.

On Jan.10.2004 at 12:05 AM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

I am not so much interested in pinpointing individual influences as exploring the nature of influence itself.

Influence is the "flowing in" of the Zeitgeist, a combination of social forces affecting and even determining our individual actions. Allowing the Spirit to flow in involves making room for it, emptying yourself of selfhood. To be influenced is to become a part of this collective spirit, working for its goals. To have only one or two main influences is to be insufficiently influenced. To empty oneself completely of selfhood is not only to let an influence flow in, but to continually empty yourself of the new selves flowing in with those influences.

The more one is influenced, the more "influence", or power, one has over others. People with a great deal of influence will find themselves listed in an exercise such as this. However, most people will not be empty enough to let the full effect of these people's influence run through them.

I wonder now if it is desirable to become one with the Zeitgeist. Or if the idea of the Zeitgeist is an accurate picture of reality. It is not so deterministic if we think of free will as still existent in our choice of whether or not to allow influence to guide us. And influence itself is perhaps not so much a deterministic force as an opening up of possibilities.

I once had a vision of the blank-paper hell, nothing but a white surface extending in all directions infinitely, with not a signifier in sight to remind me of a single possibility. If I had anything to write or draw, I could have, because I did have a pencil. Only by calling upon the muses, remembering all those who went before, was I suddenly faced with all the materials, the ideas, the forms with which I could create. Nothing could be created ex nihilo.

At times, the givenness of the lifeworld seems a constraint. Technology, materials, ideology, economy, professionalism; all the given determinants of what we do make our practice so limited, when what we really want to do is Create. We want to create out of nothing so that we can enjoy all the credit. We would even create ideal others who might worship our great work.

By instead calling upon the Muses, those who have gone before, we ourselves can become the embodiment of the Zeitgeist, free to shape and create.

On Jan.10.2004 at 02:59 AM
freelix’s comment is:

Alvin Lustig: gone, and soon not to be forgotten.

Anyone know when this book arrives? And how were Chermayeff and Giesmar able to pull off TWO sizeable books in 3 yrs? Didnt they used to design IDENTITIES?

Where is the Saul Bass book? Its a conspiracy!

On Jan.10.2004 at 02:41 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Damn, Damn, Damn:

I was already to respond to Art Chantry's Post from 2002 on Rand calling himself GOD.

Mr. Chantry, I am afraid you're wrong. I'll address the issue later this week.

Fortunately or Unfortunately Sunday Evening I checked the weeks topic on Speak Up. Saw my name and almost wet and crapped my paints.

Many thanks Mr. Heller for giving further consideration to Credit within a Historical Context:

Of course I like to take the scenic view as you all know. Promiss I will try to keep it short and sweet.

When I was in high school and told friends I wanted to be a Designer. They all asked, "You want to make clothes".

No I responded, I 'm studying to be an Advertising Artist this was 1971-1974.

"They all said like Darren on Bewitched". Which was the only point of reference anybody had.

I responded YEAH in kind. To proud to tell them. Darren Stevens was an Account Executive. Not an Advertising Artist. Anyway it was what I did and wanted to do.

I am influenced by everybody. Only a few I REVERE. You already know whom two of them are. SAUL BASS and PAUL RAND. Herbert Bayer, Alvin Lustig, Moholy-Nagy, Erik Nitsche, Georg Olden, Reynold Ruffins, S. Neil Fujita, Clarence Lee. etc.

Names to numerous to mention.

I must take this time to mention Robert Miles Runyan. The most FLAMBOYANT Designer in the History of Visual Communication. (Bar None)

My MOTHER was Culturally Astute. We had reproductions of Rockwell's work in our home as well as Bass' Lincoln Center Film Strip Poster.

I am enamored with our Female Designer(s)

At the top of my list: Female Designers never get the attention they Deserve. Regardless of their place in History.

1. Rosmarie Tissi, will marry her in a heartbeat. Lov her to DEATH!!!!!!!!

I guess I'll have to be like Mark whatshisname that Married Martha Rae.

2. Cipe Pineless, GOD SEND very special place in my heart.

3. Elinor Selame, The First Women in America to FOUND a Top Tier Corporate Identity and Branding Consultancy.

Which is now forty (40) years old.

Somehow Debbie Millman missed this in her excellent Article Titled 'Six In The City'. For Graphic Design USA


4. Tomiko Miho, Look Out Jim.

5. Katherine McCoy, NUFF SAID

6. Reba Sochis, She ran an Advertising Agency in the 1960s only Steve Heller will know her.

Created very influential work. Never seem to get credit for her accomplishment.

Today I am mostly influenced by the BEHIND THE SCENES Designers that actually create the work at many leading Identity Consultancies. You will almost never read an individual article about them:

1. DON ERVIN, Corporate Identity GOD.

2. Joe Selame Corporate Identity GOD.

3. Eugene J. Grossman, Corporate Identity GOD. Founder of Anspach Grossman Portugal. Sold his Consultancy to WPP.

Immediately Partnered with Alan Siegel at Siegel & Gale.

4. Kenneth Cook

5. Kenneth Love

6. Constance Birdsall

7. Margaret Youngblood.

8. Arthur King

9. Howard York

10. Flavio Gomez, Partner and Marketing Genius

11. Darrel Hayden

12. Jerry Kuyper

13. Joe Finocchiaro, Perhaps, the most GIFTED Identity Designer Practicing To Date.


To name just a few. I can nam hundreds of Designers from Europe, Far East, South America.

Only a few can be mentioned as TRUE Luminaries.

At the same time, I can name hundreds of Illustrators that are all but forgotten.

I have always wondered how people Judge whom they like and Revere.

1. Are Designers Great because someone write articles about them?

2. Are Designer(s) Great because you continually see them in Annuals and they win awards?

3. Are Designer(s) we Revere Great because they make a lot of money and are Rich and Famous?

4. Are Designer(s) Great because others tell us they're Great?

5. Are Designers Great because they receive Lifetime Achievment Awards from respected Professional Organizations, e.g. AIGA, ADC or

members of the Few and Proud Elite Alliance Graphique Internationale?


6. Are Designers Great because they have left an

indelible mark on our cultural landscape? And somehow change our WORLD for the Betterment Of Mankind.(Not Mick Foley)

I grew up Born and Bread on THE WESTPORT SCHOOL. Norman Rockwell, Austin Briggs,Steven Dohanos Doris Lee, Al Parker, Robert Fawcett, Peter Helck, Dong Kingman,Ben Stahl,Fred Ludekins, Bernie Fuchs. Which led me to Howard Pyle, NC Wyeth, Coby Whitmore, Thorton Utz, Donald Teague, John Falter,Robert Andrew Parker, Robert Cunningham, Paul Calle,Robert Vickery, Phil Hays, Ray Prohaska, Eugene karlin.

Airbrush Luminaries, Alberto Vargas, George Petty, Charles White III, Dave Williardson, H. Sorajama, Phillip Castle, Dave McMahon, Robert Hussein,Doug Johnson, (others)

Fantasy Illustrators, H.R. Geiger, Sid Mead, Frank Frazetta.

Never wanted to be a Fantasy Illustrator. Just liked their use of AirBrush.

AirBrush, Fine Artist, Audrey Flack, Chuck Close

Ernst Haas. (others)

To Freelix:

There was an HONEST ATTEMPT by Joe Morgenstern to publish a Book on SAUL BASS Titled "A Life In Film and Design.

Somehow never got off the Ground.

Jennifer Bass, Saul Bass' Daughter tried to publish a Book on her Father. Copyright Issues keep her from publishing the book.

The book was to be published by Phaidon Press.

There is a Bio on SAUL BASS Scheduled to be released Spring/Summer 2004.

To David E. or anyone interested the Globe on the side of THE UPS Trucks was Designed by Anspach Grossman Portugal. To strengthen the TAG LINE, 'Synchronizing the World on Time. AGP also was retained and Branded the UPS Livery for the Airplanes.

I mention this because I read today the 159 contributions to UPS Rebranding Thread.

Among my Design and Corporate Identity Ephemera. I have Anspach Grossman Portugal's Capability Brochure.

On Jan.12.2004 at 02:10 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> 1. Are Designers Great because someone write articles about them?

Maven, you asked some good (and tough) questions that I've been asking myself too. Specially that first one. It is like that old, corny saying: If a tree falls but nobody hears does it make a sound?

If nobody writes about designers there is absolutely no way they will become known, much less marks in history. This applies to everything pretty much, but we are in charge of creating our own history. From big contributions like books by Heller and Meggs, to smaller ones like the interviews here in Speak Up. I like to think that one day a design historian will stumble unto Speak Up doing research for, say, Aesthetic Apparatus and bam, here it is. But why is it here? Because I'm personally attracted, intrigued and influenced by their work so I decide to interview them, not some other firm. So, in a subjective profession we make inclusions based on what we think is good… again this applies to most soft sciences where there are few tangible results. Writers choose to write on subjects they find interesting or fascinating, allowing them to spend lengthy periods of time researching one single subject. If they didn't have this personal impulse we woul have nothing…

So, to answer your question shortly, yes.

On Jan.12.2004 at 09:26 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

To Armin:

Well said.

I'm sure I'm informing you of nothing you don't already know.

Speak Up is the most PROGRESSIVE Open Forum Devoted to Design on the Internet. (Bar None)

Many Historic Significant Designers within Visual Communication read Speak Up. They just don't contribute. Suffice it to say. More than you think.

Secondly, your FEET are already firmly cemented in Design History.

I totally agree with the other POST. Any Design

Historian Continuing Phillip Meggs 'A History of

Graphic Design' or another book devoted to Design History. That does not include Speak Up within the Annals of Visual Communication is doing Design History a GRAVE IN-JUSTICE.

Armin, You're already FAMOUS.

Your contribution will not go unnoticed.

Mr. Heller, any consideration of A COLD EYE article on Speak Up?


The Globe on the side of THE UPS Trucks was Designed by Anspach Grossman Portugal. To strengthen the TAG LINE, 'Worldwide Delivery Service'.

Not, 'Synchronizing the World on Time,'

as I previously stated.

Even Maven(s) make mistakes!!!

On Jan.14.2004 at 07:34 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

3. Elinor Selame, The First Women in America to FOUND a Top Tier Corporate Identity and Branding Consultancy. Which is now forty (40) years old. Somehow Debbie Millman missed this in her excellent Article Titled 'Six In The City'. For Graphic Design USA

Design Maven: You are so right about Elinor. She did lead the way for women in brand consultancies. Major faux pas on my part, and I really regret it. A letter to the editor written by Steven Ford in the subsequent issue of GDUSA pointed this out as well.

On Jan.15.2004 at 08:45 AM
Kenneth FitzGerald’s comment is:

I've been waiting for a true gadfly (someone who challenges establishment views, rather than defines and reinforces them) to come along and buzz this increasingly superficial discussion. Sadly, the premise and execution of this conversation reinforces why design isn't taken seriously as a subject of study and why designers continue to be their worst advocates.

Rather than being a consideration of crafting a history, this thread is no more profound than picking a set of Famous Designer Trading Cards ("Wow! I got a Sagmeister!" "For god's sake don't chew the gum!") To think you're constructing a history with a bunch of arbitrarily-chosen names then deriving a framework to contextualize them is pretty silly. As is often the case in mainstream design writings, it's a process of "conclusion first, find facts to support it, ignore what doesn't fit."

Much as I respect and admire the efforts of Steve Heller and Phil Meggs (I recommend his book to all my students as the one to get if they buy only one design book--admittedly because there's only one other history, Richard Hollis', which I personally prefer), I look to them only for what my undergraduate art history professor called "aircraft identification"--basic facts on names and dates. For a critical sensibility, I excuse myself (sometimes politely) and leave the room. Those sensibilities is invariably professionally-determined and highly subjective (e.g. "He showed that type could be molded like clay." What does that mean? I have a BFA in Ceramics and I'm no more enlightened about Lubalin's role in our culture by reading that. But I do know Steve likes him a lot.)

It would help aspiring design historians within design to familiarize themselves with the disputes going on within the History field. A major schism is between the "political historians" and...well, everyone else: historians studying work history, gender issues, etc. Political historians are the traditional "Big Name" people--history is all about studying Famous Figures. Art History shares this emphasis but has many disputants. Designers seem to think they'll have a real history when there are as many Paul Rand monographs as there are Picasso volumes. Spare us. Instead of emphasizing Genius Practitioners, design might make inroads into the cultural conciousness by studying its activity, then choosing individuals who illustrate it. I recommend Ellen Mazur Thomson's The Origins of Graphic Design in America and Paul Jobling and David Crowley's Graphic Design: Reproduction and Representation as texts to look into. Graphic designers, however, will have little interest in these books, as they are short on hero-worship and full-color images.

I do think there is value in designers discussing who influenced them and why. But it must be informed with a critical sensibility. Often, as in the case of DesignMaven, it's little more than pompous self-aggrandizement: look upon my shiny elbows from rubbing up against THE GODS OF DESIGN and DESPAIR or we'll go TOE to TOE AND I'll squash you LIKE a BUG! (WHAT's with ALL the CAPS? Are your KEYS STICKING?)

Design is well-positioned for a text like Greil Marcus' Lipstick Traces, one which ties together popular artifacts and practitioners into a unique portrait of culture. It could start from a bull session such as this one here. Maybe Rick Poynor will write it.

Now, having said all that, let me spin around to hypocracy and give you my two overlooked designers. I think it is shameful that John Maeda has 3 fat books and receives the attention he does while Muriel Cooper and Jackie Casey have zero studies of their achievements and rarely get mentioned (for those who don't know, I make the Maeda link because they all work(ed) at MIT). I speculate often on why. (In my own DesignMavenish name-dropping, I'll confess my bias: they're both alumnae of my school, Massachusetts College of Art, and I had the opportunity to speak with both in the late 1980s--back when I did and knew even less about design than I do now...if that's possible. They were both very polite and tolerant with my ignorant questions about their work.)

Lastly, much as I admire forums such as Speak Up, I see it drifting--it seems, for design, inexorably--into high-fiving in all the threads. At least "End of the Year Props" announced it was going to be all back-slapping and congrats so I could stay away. Some sweetness is nice, too much is cloying. Don't forget the sour.

On Jan.15.2004 at 09:27 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> To think you're constructing a history with a bunch of arbitrarily-chosen names then deriving a framework to contextualize them is pretty silly.

... design might make inroads into the cultural conciousness by studying its activity, then choosing individuals who illustrate it.

Kenneth, that's all we seem to have. While I'm not disagreeing with you, I'd rather have that than nothing at all. And I think the whole problem (to be honest I didn't think of it as a problem until you brought this up) stems from the fact that we haven't figured out how to even describe our activity. How the hell are we supposed to study it if we haven't even defined it? So, come think of it, it doesn't come as a surprise that we rely on people rather than on practice to create graphic design history. Now, I don't think that is so bad, as it is these individuals that have (for better or worse) shaped the profession. I think we can benefit from both angles.

As a side note, possibly ignorant and inconsequential, isn't architecture the same way? With monograph, after monograph of famous architects?

> Lastly, much as I admire forums such as Speak Up, I see it drifting--it seems, for design, inexorably--into high-fiving in all the threads

C'mon, high five!

Seriously though, thanks for that observation.

On Jan.15.2004 at 11:01 AM
Steve Heller’s comment is:

I'm glad Kenneth joined the forum because he's right insofar as history is not simply a bunch of names (albiet I'm not sure arbitrarily selected is quite accurate, in fact while said for effect it has a nice ring, but suggests a degree of unnecessary sarcasm). Context is the key and political, social, economic, religious, formal, aesthetic, media, pyschological, etc. contexts are necessary.

The history of graphic design is a slow process, but its starts with "aircraft identification." Sorry pal, but when I ask students who knows what about our professional and cultural history there are many blank stares. Build the foundations and keep reinforcing them, only then can we move on to other areas. I'm sure Kenneth knows how frustrating it is to address the second, third, and forth layers of historical discourse with those who haven't touched the first. So spare me the "this is what history should be" because in reality it most people in this field don't have an iota of knowledge and need foundations on which to build.

Nonetheless those who are engaged in trying to write, research, and teach history follow different methodologies. I say that each is valid as long as each is based on clear principals. Kenneth's presumption that some sensibilities are "invariably professionally-determined and highly subjective" is true, but what's wrong with that? Its part of the mix. When I said in my original post that Lubalin " showed that type could be molded like clay." I wasn't writing a history tract, just making an observation. Kenneth says "What does that mean? " Just ask and I'll tell you (off line if you prefer). He says "I have a BFA in Ceramics and I'm no more enlightened about Lubalin's role in our culture by reading that. But I do know Steve likes him a lot." Of course you are right the statement on its own may not answer the cosmic question of "who is Herb Lubalin" but history is made up of many statements, questions, and answers. Statements are meant to foster questions, which hopefully leads to answers.

The bigger question is: Does anybody know who Lubalin is ? Is his work relevant to our history? If so, what were the factors that brought his work to the fore and made his design worthy of further discussion? Then what discussion should we have? Formal, functional, aesthetic, ethical, What? For me he fits into all these categories and has impacted other areas and other designers. He is a window out of which a big story can be told about corporate, advertising, and publication design. he was involved in the Sexual Revolution. He fits into the political discourse. He funded and founded a newspaper, McGraphic, devoted to the election of George McGovern, and for me studying this gives insight into the effectiveness of independent political activism of the early Seventies. But that's another story.

This post was not meant as a High-Five thread. Rather it was offered as an opportunity to discuss individuals who may have some value, some known others not - and examine people with and without Big Names. I agree that historians are stuck on the genius principle and its time to move further along, but in doing so should we really ignore individuals like Jackie Casey or Muriel Cooper in favor of pure ideas. One certainly has something to do with the other.

The so-called history debate should continue. But more than debate the actualwork should be produced that establishes various forms of history.

I believe it starts with knowing something about the people that made the work that had the impact on whatever area we choose to discuss.

On Jan.15.2004 at 03:38 PM
Tom Gleason’s comment is:

I am interested in "useful histories" (Nietzsche), meaning histories that excite the spirit, tell us who we are and where we've come from, and possibly where we're headed what options we have.

Many traditional, "pseudo-objective" (from Perez-Gomez, "Hermeneutics and Discourse" in Design Issues)histories amount to nothing but a pile of facts that are very difficult to relate to, and are even, as Perez-Gomez states, dangerous. We can even become historical packrats, amassing huge amounts of trivial information.

Traditional approaches to "objectively" documenting history have been revealed by feminists and postmodernists to conceal hidden biases. To create "useful histories" which are intentionally biased (but still grounded in fact), might be superior because they at least communicate their biases. Not to mention that they are more enjoyable to read.

I am interested in doing an intellectual history of design, to interpret the phylogenesis of our design mind. I would like to see why we think in the ways that we do, and how all of this is connected to the broader development of modern life. I imagine that this analysis would lead to a powerfully transformative story.

I agree with Mr. Heller that we cannot even begin to understand these more complex levels of historical inquiry before we understand our received traditional history. My idea of what is to be done and what is possible suffer from my own lack of this basic knowledge. However, I somehow feel that "traditional" history as such is not even accessible without some understanding of its usefulness and its importance. The separation between theory and practice in design schools prevents this understanding from ever occuring. Design history becomes a palette of styles to choose from, and everything but the visual is lost to the students.

Which brings me to recall the words I've heard so many times from so many poor teachers: "You have to walk before you can run." It was only when I became a savage and stopped caring about school that I began to understand the importance of history. Sometimes I think teachers can't keep up with the potential of contemporary students, so they hold them back, teaching them how to refine their slow steps to the point of absurdity.

I met someone recently who was working on a Masters degree. His thesis was an incredibly basic study of design elements and formal theory. He insisted that it was the first small step toward something bigger, but he had no sense of the big picture or where he was going. He even detested the sociological classes he had to take; he didn't understand the relevance. I ended up thinking that he was just going through the motions to secure his teaching position. This walk-before-you-run philosophy, I hate to say it, seems like an imperative of the system, preventing the arisal of genius which might disturb its structure.

Anyway, I do have a bias toward consciously "useful histories". Is there any reason I shouldn't?

I originally didn't think this was supposed to be a discussion of historical methodology. Mr. Heller's approach in his post almost ensured that this discussion would remain a name-dropping of influences. I'm glad that Mr. FitzGerald turned the discussion in a different direction; I am just wondering, as I'm sure many ordinary designers are, about how one is to go about discussing historical methodology. Most of us do not have a deep familiarity with philosophies of history.

On Jan.16.2004 at 02:50 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Just found out about this post today at 8:30 pm


To Kenneth Fitzerald:

But it must be informed with a critical sensibility.

Often, as in the case of DesignMaven, it's little more than pompous

self-aggrandizement: look upon my shiny elbows from rubbing up against

THE GODS OF DESIGN and DESPAIR or we'll go TOE to TOE AND I'll squash

you LIKE a BUG! (WHAT's with ALL the CAPS? Are your KEYS STICKING?)

Well Kenny, in order to remain CIVIL. Since I take offence to your commments. And consider them a personal attack. What you eat

don't make me SHIT!!!!!

Perhaps, you should stick to threads discsussing the additive method and subtractive method of earthenware. How many cones should be used to properly FIRE a Kiln.

More importantly, what glazes to use to assimilate BLINKO.

Muriel Cooper and Jackie Casey have zero studies of their achievements and rarely get mentioned (for those who don't know, I make the Maeda link

because they all work(ed) at MIT).

How mis-informed you are. Jacqueline S. Cassy is or was a member of the Alliance Graphique Internationale. The most ELITE GROUP of Designers Worldwide.

Jacqueline Casey began her career at MIT in 1955.

Ms. Casey was Director of Design Services MIT.

Exhibited works at the Philadelphia College

of Art in 1968.

Jacqueline Casey also exhibited at the Chelsa Gallery of Art London.

One women show at MIT in 1972 and 1978 within the Hayden Gallery Corridor.

Another one women exhibition in 1979 at the London College of Printing in 1980.

Jacqeline Casey, Posters have been exhibited worldwide and are in the Permanant Collections of the Museum of Modern Art N.Y. Cooper Hewitt Museum N.Y. United States Information Agency and the Library of Congress.

Muriel Cooper:

One of Few Designer(s) in the WORLD to receive the PRESTIGIOUS AIGA LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD.


One of the GREAT FEMALE Practitioners of the twentieth Century.

Designed and Edited the Landmark Book in 1965 on the BAUHAUS.

Her credits to numerous to mention. For more information IDIOT.

LOAD THIS URL into you web browser.

http://www.aiga.org/content.cfm contentalias=murielcooper

John Maeda, My DesignFather PAUL RAND liked him.

However, John Maeda, like David Carson, does nothing for me!!!!!!

In reference to my BOLD TYPE and CAPS. I'm imitatingDAVID CARSON.

To show how unreadable his type is SKEWED ALL OVER THE PLACE.

Apparently, you didn't get that. Is that over your head as well!!!

Each Designer contributing to Speak Up is different in their likes and dislikes. Akin to

no two workers or people are alike.

Sometimes Designer(s) share common interest in

the same accomplishments of Designers. Many don't.

Yes, I can name a lot of Designers, Illustrators

and Fine Artist. At the same time, I can tell you

how they contributed to our Cultural Landscape

for Betterment of Mankind. As well, why they should be inclusive in the Annals of Visual Communication.

Your personal attack of me without knowing anything about me PROVES YOUR STUPIDITY and IGNORANCE.

A person such as yourself with LIMITED PERSPICACITY of Design IDIOM should not be MYOPIC.

It is better to remain SILENT. And be thought a FOOL. Than to open your MOUTH and remove all DOUBT.

Abraham Lincoln

Kenneth Fitzgerald YOU HAVE JUST BEEN PUNKED BY DesignMaven.

Was that a COCK ROACH I just stepped on???


Speak Up!!!!!!!!!!

On Jan.16.2004 at 08:19 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:


Kenneth Fitzgerald:

While you bestowed the virtues (name dropping)

with no relevence of working methodologies of

these Design Luminaries. Jacqueline S. Casey,

Muriel Cooper and John Maeda.

In your own Pomposity of Name Dropping. Due to

your inability or lack of knowledge of Visual


You MYSTERIOUSLY did not mention one

of the FOREMOST DESIGNERS of the Twentieth Century GYORGY KEPES. Protégé of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at the Chicago Bauhaus.

Now the Institute of Design.

Most Important, teacher to my DADDY. My other

DesignFather SAUL BASS.

Agast, in your own Delusion of Grandeur.

GYORGY KEPES, in 1945 Founded and established the First Visual Design Program at M.I.T. School of Architecture and Planning. During this time Norbert Wiener was developing his cybernetic theories which were to merge the computer with


A result of this led to the landmark book "The New Landscape Of Art and Science".

Required Reading for MAVENS!!!!

Also within my Design Archives below referenced

books, by GYORGY KEPES.

1. The Language of Vision

2. The Education of Vision

3. Structure In Art and Science

4. The Nature and Art of Motion

5. Module Proportion Symmetry, Rhythm

6. The Man Made Object

7. Arts OF The Environment

8. Sign Image Symbol

9. The Visual Arts Today

GYORGY KEPES, before John Maeda's parents were born was Experimenting with the Computer at M.I.T.

During GYORGY KEPES TENURE at M.I.T. he was Founder of The Center FOR Advanced Studies at M.I.T.

In 1960 Found the Lighting and Color Department.

Calloborating with Scientist and Experimenting with new media toward an end of using Light and

Color to transform our Environment.

Furthermore, I'm a member of M.I.T. Press.

Subscribed to the M.I.T. Design Journal for many years. Published by The Walker Art Center. Design Journal now defunct.

Kenneth Fitzgerald:

You managed in one POST to Disrespect Visual Communications Leading Authority of Design History. The High Priest, Steve Heller.

At the same time, You offended Armin Vit.

Design Phenomenologist.

Most important, You Verbally Attacked Me.

The Most High, "DesignMaven"

The Rules of Speak Up

1. You Don't Pull On Superman's Cape. (Steve Heller)

2. You Don't Spit in the Wind.(Cross Armin Vit)

3. You Don't Pull the Mask Off Ole Lone Ranger.

(Go toe to toe with DesignMaven)

4. You Don't Fuck Around with Tan.

(Tan's a Damn Rocket Scientist. Other than Steve

Heller the Genius of the Group)

Notice you had nothing Disparaging to say about Tan.

I ain't coaxing you either.


Next Time You want to PICK A FIGHT WITH DesignMaven.

Bring WEAPONS OF MASS Destruction

Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Weapons.

"I'm still standing" (Reginald Dwight)

"At no time is the CHAMP IN TROUBLE" (Muhammad Ali)

On Jan.17.2004 at 03:17 AM
Sam’s comment is:


On Jan.17.2004 at 11:06 AM
graham’s comment is:


On Jan.17.2004 at 12:43 PM
Brady’s comment is:

What happened to this discussion?

I took Mr. Heller's post to be simply about who has influenced us in our professional calling, not a call for our top ten from the index of the CA annual.

So what if it sounds like a "who's who list"? In light of the fact that many people don't know "who's not who" is simply because they are not exposed to that history. Is it the young black designer's fault he does not know that Georg Olden was the first black professional in the TV industry when he joined CBS in 1945? While never getting the recognition he deserved - some say he designed the CBS "eye", not the credited William Golden - he insisted that "Acceptance is a matter of talent."

In today's media, that is rarely true, even in (graphic) design. In mainstream media, why is an article about "design" not printed without featuring Karim Rashid - who is more of a stylist due to many of his "designs" lacking a certain thing we call functionality?

Yet, are we as a professional group not "lucky" to have Bill Cahan on CNN speaking about the importance of design in financial communications? Michael Bierut in the New York Times speaking about election reform and ballot design? There was once a time where designers resided in "bullpens" to never see the limelight nor - in some ways - the light of day.

You only know what you are familiar with - whether it be in the classroom, the news, trade publications, and even who you know. While not all of us are lucky to get "shiny elbows", we must resort to what we are familiar with.

And while I never saw Mr. Heller's discussion topic as a "high-five fest" and my original list included some known and not-so-known - yet google-able - professionals; I will leave you with a list of influences you have probably never heard of...

Personally: Jack Sherwood "Woody" Gaskill

His friendship taught me to love life and to take risks. He was my best friend since before kindergarten until he died in 1985.

Professionally: Rev. Duke Ison

Pastor of my church, Duke brings forth so much insight, emotion and interest to his sermons. He does this by being plain in his language, honest in his emotions and never forgets that life can be funny. And he does it with out preaching.

Culturally: George Creef

Owner of the one screen theater in the town where I grew up, George was the grandfather I never had. He opened my eyes to film and the power it has on our culture. When I was a kid he always let me see films like Star Wars and Monty Python and the Holy Grail a few days before they were released. He would also let me invite friends to watch old Disney movies on Saturday afternoon.


Oh, one more thing...


DesignMaven - Please, until your posts take on some semblance of professionalism, do not include me as a seemingly willing participant in them. While I agree that Mr. FitzGerald was off base for some of his comments he was spot-on in some of them.

Seriously, your comments - including your two most recent tomes - while rich with design history are growing more and more unreadable due to the propensity of your passion for a topic transmogrifying into a fervent lack of respect and idle "threats" to those who disagree with you. Further, one or two grammatical/typing errors in a post is one thing, but to not take the time to proofread your writing displays a lack of respect for not only us but for you and the subject matter you are addressing.

Thank you.

On Jan.17.2004 at 03:37 PM
Steve Heller’s comment is:

Returning to the original idea of the post allow me to add one more name to the list of figures worth examining.

Professionally, Personally, Culturally:

Louis Silverstein, he was the design director and asst. managing editor (the first design director of the NY TIMES to be put on the masthead), who most influenced the current design of newspapers. He certainly changed the old gray lady into a vibrant typographical entity, and made a huge impact on the way I personally viewed design as means of presented the news.

On Jan.17.2004 at 08:05 PM
DesignMaven ’s comment is:


You've been TIRED your whole career.

To Brady:

The comments were viewed and interpeted by me

as a personal attack. You were not on the receiving end of the comments.

Thus, I decided to address the issue as I deemed


If I may paraphrase Renowned Designer Art Chantry. "Those that treat me with respect". "Get treated with respect".

"How fair is that"?

I am not one to turn the other cheek.

Personal Attacks and disagreements are two separate issues.

I'm the first to say. "We can agree to disagree".

Mr. Hellers, original post stated nothing in reference to discussing working methodologies of Design Practioners.

Somehow, Mr. Fitzgerald decided to FLIP THE SCRIPT.

One has to be able to decipher REALITY FROM FICTION.

Such as, Discerning the Shtick of HOWARD STERN

from the Right Wing 'HOLIER than

THOU' Banter of Rush Limbaugh.

Agreed, should not have used your name.

An Off The Cuff Remark. Obvioulsy, you took it personal. Don't read more into my comment or post than what it is, irreverent humor.

Unless you are obviously being personally attacked by me.

I'm not that shallow to believe I am infallible.

I learn something everyday. Through personal conviction and dedication to my profession.

Not even you can REPUDIATE or Challenge Any of my POST.

Agreed, spelling is atrocious.

I don't pretend to be a writer. I am a Corporate Identity Designer/Consultant/Evangelist. Heretofor an EXPERT on Design History.

What a way to Publicly Exalt and Exonerate yourself.

On Georg Olden , certainly did contribute to the creation the CBS Eye. Never credited. Everyone is aware of it from CBS Founder, Bill Paley, CBS President, Frank Stanton, Eero Saarinen, whom Design the CBS Building, Lou Dorfsman, Ted Andresakes, Bill Wurtzel, Peter Bradford, Rick Levine, David Herzbrun, Herman Aronson, and Ed Side.(others)

To include, Herb Lubalin.

Louis Siverstein:


I'll ad one more. Forgot to mention another sweatheart, DEBORAH SUSSMAN.

Whom has contributed to the advancement of Sematics and Semiotics. As well, Environmental Graphics and Retail Design.

Anyone that is interested in learning the working methodologies of Designers.

Read or Subscribe to HOW Magazine or STEP BY STEP Graphics.


The views expressed herein in reference to

Kenneth Fitzgerald are not the views expressed by Armin Vit, Tan, PK and BRADY.

They are the expressed written views of DesignMaven.

I make no apologies for my expressed written views.

Other than the aforementioned names.


On Jan.18.2004 at 04:55 PM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

Typical mail I receive Weekly since posting on Speak Up

In my own, pompous self-aggrandizement: look upon my shiny elbows from rubbing up against THE GODS OF DESIGN, way.


I will answer this Private Email. All questions. No stone unturned.

While I feed my kids. Help them with their homework. Give them baths and tuck them in.

Provide undivided attention to my lovingWIFE.

Prepare my FAMILY for the next

Days Life Lesson.

Doubtful if the person is concerned with a couple of mis-spelled words.

Because, my fingers don't type as fast as my

brain process information.


And the person that one seeks to provide them

with information.


Dear Design Maven,

Hello. I am sorry to write to you without a proper introduction.

My name is ***** and I am a Japanese freelance

journalist and researcher. I am currently working on a research on the branding industry in the US. I found your comment on branding business

on "brandchannel" and "underconsideration" and have identified you as someone who has considerable expertise in this area.

I know that the branding business is getting lots of attention and numerous firms--not only brand consultant agencies, but also traditional

ad agencies and strategic management companies--are entering this business and competition among them is getting fierce. I would like to

grasp the positioning and landscape of these companies. In a nutshell,to map this industry is the focus of my research.

If you give me any kind of insight regarding the questions below, I would be most appreciative.

1 What is the scale of the branding business market in the US?

2 Why and how has the market been growing? Since when?

3 Who are the main players in this branding market?

4 Who are the leaders of the branding industry (business) in the US?

5 How could I categorize the purveyors of branding business? A) brand consultancy(e.g. Interbrand) B)ad agency (e.g. Ogilvy)

C)management consultancy (e.g. Mckinsey) Is there any other category of firms?

6 What is the fundamental difference between the branding services provided by ad agencies, brand specialists and management consultants?

How is the service of each branding consultancy different from each other? What are the special features of each company?

7 Is there any difference among them in terms of the quality of staff? Which category of consultancies does have most qualified staff?

8 How are the services of brand management consultant agencies different from the ones provided by ad agencies?

9 How are the services of management consultant companies different from the ones provided by branding consultancies of other categories?

10 Who is growing most? Who is expanding marketing share by a unique strategy?

11 What is the significant recent trend of this business?

I am sorry there are too many questions. If it is too much for you to answer by e-mail, can we arrange to speak by telephone whenever it would

be convenient for you?

Thank you very much for your kind consideration.

I earnestly hope to hear from you soon.

On Jan.18.2004 at 08:36 PM
Brady’s comment is:

DesignMaven -

I am not going to get into a shoving match with you on Speak Up; it is not the place for it. You apologized and I accept.

> Not even you can REPUDIATE or Challenge Any of my POST.

Historical note:

Louis Sullivan - not Silverstein - writ the phrase,

     "... form ever follows function ..."

as part of a more complete and descriptive statement in 1896.

Some how it is always shortened to "Form follows function." This iteration disregards the finality of the statement, which he followed with "and this is the law."

On Jan.19.2004 at 09:12 AM
DesignMaven ’s comment is:


Nuff Said.

Just Testing!!!!

On Jan.19.2004 at 10:27 AM
graham’s comment is:



On Jan.19.2004 at 11:00 AM
graham’s comment is:

personally, professionally, culturally; i've just been reminded how much music has meant to me over the years (and very particularly in terms of influencing how i work, how i look at things, the kinds of design i would look at and wonder at) , and two particular people/groups come to mind-arvo part and dead can dance (and the solo work of brendan perry and lisa gerrard). it's weird, but it seems that at any time of (for me) change, or progress, or crisis, there'll be a new cd out by one of the above.

which is also a sneaky way of saying that i really recommend lisa gerrard/patrick cassidys new cd, 'immortal memory', which came out yesterday. it's beautiful and might just make you want to go and do something lovely.

On Jan.21.2004 at 09:58 AM
ray jacobs’s comment is:

Interesting blog. I was raised by two astute parents. My father, Harry Jacobs, was one of the finest hand-lettering artists in the country, serving such masters as Saul Bass, Lou Danziger, Harry Diamond (more on him later) and clients such as Ford, Kamchatka Vodka, Lincoln, U.S.Gov't, and also teaching senior students hand-lettering at the very fine Chouinard Art Institute in L.A. for 15 years. My mother filled in the other side of our "home" education with music, writing, and much culture, including season seats to the L.A. Philharmonic.
I had the pleasure to work with one of the design giants for years, Lou Dorfsman at CBS in the 70's. His book, "Dorfsman on CBS" is an astounding array of genius work, and no one should miss it. Although he did not design the eye, (Wm. Goldman), he did protect its integrity, until he left CBS, and Steve Sohmer took over, whom I and my partner worked with for several years. (Jacobs & Gerber, Inc.)
Lou was also a gentleman, and so trusted my Bill Pailey that he approved every message directly without Pailey's approval. This is trust. Not like today, with non-broadcaster's in power all too frequently. (Tisch,etc.)
I was asked to update the CBS Eye years ago, and was responsible for the more contemporary type selection replacing CBS Bodoni, at least for the Entertainment Division. A very fun assignment. (Under George Schweitzer)
Yes, Saul reigns supreme for his immense intellect, and stunning examples of timeless logos, still in use today. No shadows, no effects, no 3-d, just extraordinary designs.
I also worked with Seymour Chwast, Herb Lubalin and others while doing work for the L.A. philharmonic, and the Hollywood Bowl, with my partner, Stefan Gerber.("You give us 22 minutes, and we'll...) Pushpin Studio was a place that was full of inspiration, never to be repeated.
One last note, I am honored to be among the Hall of Famer's of Promax/BDA, as well as Lou Dorfsman, and many other contributors to broadcast advertising, marketing and design.
BYW, Harry Diamond was the outstanding and brilliant art director for the Signal Oil Company's award-winning newsletter,as well as teaching design at Chouinard Art Institute, along with Ed Reep (painting), Jules Glucoft (illustration), and many other outstanding artists, and designers. I attended Art Center College of Design, and was on the faculty there for years.

On Feb.18.2009 at 03:39 PM