Design Writing

HellerBooks_l.jpgSteven Heller is the most prolific design writer... ever. He has writen a few bookshelves-worth of books, and contributed to countless magazines such as Print, Eye and ID. He was the art director of the New York Times for over 30 years and taught at the School of Visual Arts for more than two decades. His critiques have influence, his research builds much-needed historical context for graphic design, and his books promote design intelligence.

I often wonder how people who seem to produce so much manage to do it. The answer? Heller gets up at 4am. And there still aren't enough hours in the day.

In an interview with Gothamist, Heller discusses working with illustrators. This is of particular interest to me because the next UPPERCASE book, Work / Life will be investigating the relationship between illustrators/photographers and their clients. (more details will be posted soon!)

When I looked for illustrators, I looked for someone who fit the criteria of being extension of myself. I dreamed of being an illustrator but couldn’t because I didn’t have talent to do it, even though I did do it in the early days of my career. I looked for someone who has authorship. A person or persons I would hire had to be able to speak a language on a mass level, but one that wasn’t clichéd and could take the common and make it uncommon. The people I ended up using a lot are those people who had that ability. There are those always those people who can’t do it. People I could would try to groom, but in the end wasn’t able to.

SVA is currently hosting a retrospective exhibition of Heller's career. Visit his website, too. The man has so many books that they need to presented in alphabetical categories.