Fix in your mind the biggest, most important person you can think of. Now, imagine this person with hundreds of awards, distinctions, and accolades. This person would be a giant in whatever they did, right? Are you picturing Michael Bierut? If you were thinking about graphic design, then you certainly should have been.
Born in 1957 in Ohio, Beirut threw off the face of tradition and studied Graphic Design. This was not a field that was generally promoted to young adults at this time. In fact, there were only 2 books in the library at the time on design. However, his love of art and his determination led him to the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
He has worked on many, MANY projects over the years (including book design-check out this book he designed for Justin Timberlake!, campaign design, and product design, but he is most known for “brand identity” … this includes everything from logo creation to editorial design to icon design. Basically, it’s the way that a company presents itself on paper. The better the design, the more likely a viewer is to remember them.
Remember that I mentioned Bierut’s accomplishments? Besides having written 3 books, Beirut has also served as president to the American Institute of Graphic Arts and been on the board of the Architectural League of New your and the Library of America. He’s won more than 100 design awards and he has permanent collections in various museums in New York, Washington D.C., Germany, and Montreal. - Like I said, he’s kind of a big deal.
Coming from such simple beginnings, Beirut has some excellent advice or budding graphic designers: “I like people who, in talking about their work, scratch below the surface. Don’t talk about typefaces and Photoshop effects; talk about the subject matter, and how that interested and inspired you." (quote source) In other words, KNOW your work, know why you do it, and know yourself.
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