When considering Stefan Sagmeister’s presentation Things I have learned in my life so far, I think it is important to remember that Stefan is very much on the fringe of design and fine art, a line on which most individuals aren’t able to balance for the Monday to Friday design employment; however, having stated that, there is no reason why as a designer we can’t have side projects, volunteer projects, and personal interests and explorations. I’m a firm believer that the real designer becomes his own client…
When one considers the trickle-down effect and cultural diffusion in aesthetics from fine art or the hand crafted to popular design – much like punk poster design becoming a popular aesthetic utilized by Mtv – I think it is almost impossible to not integrate a personal voice in graphic design, at least in the onset of a new aesthetic trend. All too soon will this aesthetic become template and utilized, and taught in schools of fine art – as we have seen with Ugly Design – so I’m completely in support of the authorship and the notion of subjectivity in design, to a degree.
My personal and professional life very much informs my design work, aesthetics, and visual interests. I feel that attending my undergraduate school from 1995 to 2000 during the decline of Postmodernism, living in a rural setting with nature and landscapes for inspiration, being a gay man who self-identifies as a member of the Bear community, and championing education, design sustainably, and creating fine art all affect and inform my aesthetics and design work.
Also, like a lot of fine artist and designers – which is what I consider myself to be – I learned a long time ago how to design in a way that isn’t largely autobiographical and esoteric, but more so functional and universal, while still having a sense of ‘me’ in the work.