Oct 19, 2011

PROFILE| Stefan Sagmeister| Triggers for Experiences

Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far cover, Stefan Sagmeister, 2008
When asked if he thought graphic designers were artists, Stefan Sagmeister replied:
I personally don’t care. My favorite art definition comes from Brian Eno, who says to think of artworks not as objects but as “triggers for experiences”. Therefore, you can have an art experience in front of a Rembrandt or not, in front of an Andres Serrano or in front of a piece of graphic design. It depends on the viewer.

I could not agree more. Stefan Sagmeister has created an array of different works that can stand alone as a piece of art just as Sagmeister can stand out in a crowd of designers. Stefan Sagmeister is first of all, inspiring. He is incredibly passionate about his work and pays special attention to detail; as most designers should. Looking through his designs on his website, the viewer can get information about each design and the concept behind it. His designs are extremely conceptual and well thought out, and even better in the outcome. He's had an array of different clients which help him bring more to his artistic table. From his early CD covers to posters and books, Stefan Sagmeister could inspire from the begining of his career and continues to do so through sheer dedication to his work.
A genuine maverick, Sagmeister achieved noteriety in the 1990's as the designer who self-harmed in the name of craft: He created a poster advertising a speaking engagement by carving the salient details onto his torso. -TED Conferences, LLC
AIGA  Conference Poster, Stefan Sagmeister, 1999
This poster, for AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) was meant to visually represent the pain he goes through in every one of his design projects. Sagmeister was inspired for this poster by a sign in his studio that read "Style=Fart". This was created out of the belief that stylistic questions were just hot air and meaningless, but he has since found that his theory was false. He isn't afraid to admit that he was wrong and now thinks that form and style are actually very important tools to communicate the content of a design. I am really inspired by the concept of the poster because as a designer, I can (almost) feel his pain. I think the message he's trying to convey is crystal clear and innovative in its execution. Another distinctive part of the AIGA poster as well as many others by Sagmeister are the use of his handwriting when many people feel that he is known for his typographic works. When asked if he considered it to be a typeface, he kind of throws people’s perceptions off kilter when he says:
I am not obsessed with typefaces and find the selection of just the right one a rather tedious exercise. Using my handwriting eliminates that process, personalizes the piece, and can be interpreted as an anti-computer statement all in one easy move. -Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister took a sabbatical in 1999, soon after the AIGA conference, to rediscover who he was as a designer. He said that when he was younger, he wasn't just interested in design, it was his calling. The sabbatical he took was to make sure it remained a calling and didn't end up just being a job. I respect this and believe it's a good way to make sure ideas stay fresh and aren't recreated in many different forms. During his sabbatical, he traveled to many places to work. It might sound like a vacation to many, but he created many new pieces during his time away. These pieces were inspired by the places he visited and were created out of passion, not for a client. This is not saying at all that he doesn't create passionate works for clients, he just created works that he hoped would be published so he could communicate with his audience. This year off from work to experiment was obviously a success because he has decided to continue the practice once every seven years.
Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far:Trying to look good limits my life, Sagmeister, Print Release 2008
His most recent project was a book called “Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far”. This book was a series of typographical images that were used together as visual example for his compilation. They often depicted words which blended in or didn’t look foreign to their environment as seen above. Sagmeister’s project as far as I can see is very nostalgic in a couple of different ways. The book was inspired by his grandfather who used gold leaf to create beautiful calligraphic designs on wood panels. This nostalgia continues with the origin of the project itself which was inspired from a list of life lessons he had found in a diary from his past. With contributions from clients, he was able to showcase his work in different ways around the world and would put his typographic image on say, a billboard which usually displayed an advertisement of some sort. Sagmeister keeps the designs fairly simple and straightforward because he wants to let the viewer interpret it by relating it to their own experiences. 

All in all, I believe Stefan Sagmeister is inspiring and creates works of art with concept and meaning that is lacking in many designs today. The minuscule details that he frets about and the care he takes to make sure everything is the way he wants it to be is impeccable and well worth the trouble. It's nice to see a designer who can create works that can be appreciated as each a stand alone piece, not just as a poster, etc.

-Jennifer Wright


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  2. I really don't think anyone has read my blog honestly. I'm changing it now,but in further research I found that for some odd reason I spelled the artists name Stefan sTagmeister and it's Sagmeister! It's nice that nobody noticed, but I wish someone had!
    -Jennifer Wright