Friday, June 12, 2009

How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer: Michael Beirut

I just finished reading this awesome book "How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer" by Debbie Millman. It's the only book that I'm re-reading. I went right from the last page back to the first page. The candid nature of the interviews and the different perspectives each designer brings to the same questions is what I loved most. To note the similarities and differences across the board of these creatives has been a thrilling read.

In a series of blog posts I want to share with you what struck me most from each designer's interview.

Starting with Michael Beirut:

“When I first started talking directly to clients, I had some moments where I got so obsessed with obtaining approval about a project that I mistook that for doing the job right. By the time one project was about to go to press, I remember my boss – Massimo Vignelli–saying to me, “What is this?” And I said, “This is a job for so-and-so.” And he said, “Why does it look this way?” And I started to say, “Well, they did this, and then they did that, and it had to be this,” and he said, “No, this is awful. We can’t let this go.” He picked up the phone at my desk and called up the boss of the boss of the boss of the guy who had been jerking me around for weeks and said, “You know this thing you’re doing for the blah blah blah? I’m not sure it’s quite right. I want to do it right. We’ll send it over after we do one more thing to it. We have time right?” Then he sat there and scraped off all the shit that had accrued on it over the past three weeks and did something crops and right and perfect.

Massimo had this saying: Once a work is out there, it doesn’t really matter what the excuses were.” It doesn’t matter if you didn’t have enough time or if the client was an idiot. The only thing that counts is what you’ve designed, and whether it’s good or bad. These are words to live by.”

If you haven't read this book - you can treat this series of blog posts as excerpts. And if you have read it - share with me your thoughts and your take aways.

The Seduction symposium poster designed by Michael Bierut and Marian Bantjes for the Yale School of Architecture.
© Michael Beirut.

“Light Years” poster, The Architectural League of New York, New York, NY, 1999.
© Michael Bierut/Pentagram,

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