Graphic Design: usa -

"The Most Influential Graphic Designer of the Era"

In celebrating their 500th issue Graphic Design: usa has published the findings of a readership survey asking for input on a variety of questions. One such question was the naming of the "Most Influential Graphic Designer of the Era." The rankings were as follows:

1. Milton Glaser
2. Paul Rand
3. Saul Bass
4. Massimo Vignelli
5. David Carson
6. Stefan Sagmeister
7. Herb Lubalin
8. Tibor Kalman
9. Paula Scher
10. Margo Chase
11. Lou Dorfsman
12. Ivan Chermayeff
13. Joe Duffy
14. Neville Brody
15. Walter Landor

It's obvious from which "era" I came - with my "design heroes" Glaser, Rand, Bass, Vignelli, Lubalin, Dorfsman, Chermayeff, Brody and Landor making the list. These days when I ask younger designers what they know about these industry icons I most often get a "huh?"

Glaser is probably the one individual most responsible for me choosing graphic design as a career. As an artistic teenager, my "I want to be an artist when I grow up" desire was often shot down by anyone to whom it was mentioned. Most often it was followed with the comment "You will never be able to make a living as an artist." In 1974, while a high school senior, I came across the book Graphic Design, by some guy named Milton Glaser, and it was as if the sky had opened up for a ray of light to shine down on me from above (cue "heavenly" music). What I truly wanted to be had the name "graphic designer" and someone was actually making a living in this wonderful profession that was a mystery to me. Finding that book initiated a wonderful journey and passionate pursuit of a career in design.

I became a huge fan of Glaser's work - especially his identity designs. His book Art is Work is an incredible resource for any designer and I'm very pleased to have an example of my own work in his latest volume, The Design of Dissent.

Nearly 30 years later, the first time I was asked to speak at the HOW Design Conference, I walking down a hallway at a conference hotel in New Orleans and there he was - Milton Glaser. I suddenly became that goofy, socially inept, somewhat lost teenage kid finding that book in the library back in 1974. I was literally shaking as I went up to introduce myself. I explained to Mr. Glaser that it was his "fault" I became a designer. He could not have been a more gracious man - and he didn't look at me like I was a complete idiot (although I was feeling like one at that moment). Later, while I was writing my own book, The Savvy Designer's Guide to Success, Glaser was kind enough to respond to a couple emailed questions and direct me to some great possible content. It was an honor having him contribute to my book. One day I need to treat myself to one of his beautiful Italian landscape silkscreen prints as a reward for lasting 30 years in this line of work.

For me personally, Milton Glaser is truly "the most influential graphic designer of the era."

Check out the rest of the Graphic Design: usa 500th issue survey results on their site. You'll find lists of the most influential design firms, most influential graphic designers today, most influential ad agencies, favorite (legal) stimulants and much more.

© 2006 Jeff Fisher LogoMotives


Jack Yan said...

It’s a grave pity the younger ones aren’t taught the classics—it’s like doing a music qualification and not knowing who Mozart was. Being a type guy, Lubalin was “the man” for me, but I will still genuflect at the mention of Glaser, Rand, Bass and Vignelli. Of course the guys of my era—Carson, Kalman, Brody—deserve admiration, but with the older designers there was a sense that time had been suspended. (Yes, I know we can all pick out exceptions, and and a lot of Herb Lubalin’s work is tied to the 1960s and 1970s.)
   We, the younger ones, have become better known for work that is contemporary, tied to its era.
   There’s nothing wrong with that, but I have to wonder whether the younger great designers will be held in the same reverence in 30 years’ time. Maybe we will, given their impact at the height of their careers, but I have a personal bias toward my heroes.

Karen Larson: Larson Mirek Design said...

Hey Jeff,

I just got my new issue and have been browsing it -- what a great resource of inspiration -- It really makes me feel good to work in a industry with such talent.
This issue of GA is a keeper!