I guess I've had writers block. I didn't think of it that way until my daughter posted about her writers block recently. So there you go. My explanation for my absence lately.
So while I haven't been writing I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about business, design and creativity. But the single non-work thought that has garnered the majority of my attention is Michael Bierut.
Now Noreen Morioka says that "Being a famous designer is like being a famous dentist." And as much as I enjoy Noreen's spirited work I can't disagree more. These are unusual times and Michael Bierut is the closest thing we have to a rock star.
On November 3, his new book How To use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world will be released in hardcover. (Yes, yes, I know that copies were available at the recent AIGA conference.) I can't wait to get my hands on a copy. The press has been pretty extraordinary. The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wallpaper, and Wired among others. (Start clicking those links and you will see where I've been.)
Concurrently the School of Visual Arts in New York is inaugurating him into their Masters Series—an award that groups him with the likes of Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, George Tscherny and Paul Rand. The accompanying retrospective shows his work and personal sketchbooks and demonstrates the reach a graphic designer can have. The video released by SVA, The Master Series: Michael Bierut in Conversation with Steven Heller is absolutely worth the hour and 58 minutes required to watch it.
I've had a few modest interactions with Michael over the course of my career—from a lovely hand written note when he reviewed my portfolio at Vignelli Associates, to briefly working together for Mohawk, to hearing him at countless conferences, to chatting at events, to him referring a client my way. He is polite, genuine, funny and oh, so very smart. He puts his clients and their problems at the center of everything he does. And then he solves those problems in ways that are natural, unforced and feel like the only right solution.
I hope you will join me in celebrating some of the best design work of our day. And cheers Michael!