Mr. Steven Heller

Member Type Non-member
Bio Steven Heller, co-chair of the Designer as Author MFA and co-founder of the MFA in Design Criticism at School of Visual Arts, is the author of Merz to Emigre and Beyond: Avant Garde Magazine Design of the Twentieth Century (Phaidon Press), Iron Fists: Branding the Totalitarian State (Phaidon Press) and most recently Design Disasters: Great Designers, Fabulous Failure, and Lessons Learned (Allworth Press). He is also the co-author of New Vintage Type (Thames & Hudson), Becoming a Digital Designer (John Wiley & Co.), Teaching Motion Design (Allworth Press) and more. www.hellerbooks.com
  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2111"

    Mr. Knight neglected to include the basic information for his conference: GRAVITY FREE: The Great Multidisciplinary Design Conference. Theme: "Wonders of Magical Thinkers". May 24-26, 2011 San Francisco. http://www.exhibitoronline.com/gravityfree/index3.asp

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2063"

    As editor of the AIGA VOICE, I am proud that AIGA has created a forum that enables a wide range of voices to intelligently and thoughtfully address various issues and concerns. We don't always receive as much return on the investment made by our writers. Responses from readers do not always enhance the "conversation" This is not unusual, nor is it a surprise. But we do hope our content stimulates, and when it doesn't we are predictably disappointed. As you can all see this essay has prompted a decidedly more than average amount of response. Much of it criticizing the critique of the author. This is fine and valuable. This author, like all our contributors, is an independent commentator with a distinct viewpoint. In this case, he raises some important questions about the viability of social network venues and the display of design work for clients while in progress. Dribbble is a fascinating site, and serves its constituents well. But it does trigger concerns about presenting work in a public forum that may best be kept out of public view until it is ripe and ready. The AIGA VOICE does not take a stand on the issue per se, but encourages the debate. We are grateful to all who are engaging in a thoughtful discussion. We have also learned from the exchange here, that this is a hot-button topic and reminds me, in particular, of other instances when valid criticism is met with vociferous opposition. Again, this is fine. We are glad to be able to make this available.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2572"

    Derek raises a good point. Yes, this is designers on design. But I'd argue that designers are the ones that make the look of an age. There are many examples to cherrypick or nitpick in the oughts. In looking at a wide swath of graphics of this incredibly short decade, I was interested to find that the handworked "look" was everywhere, from IBM and HP (computer) ads, to BP energy to Starbucks and countless movie, CD, DVD, and book cover and jackets. Unlike more traditional calligraphy, this was mostly scrawl, scribble, and a bit of copying passe types by hand. It is not the only conceit of the age, but it certainly made a huge mark. Yes, there are lots of nice rounded corners and bevelled edges too. But the "dirty" in the broad sense, was decidedly a reaction to that stuff.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2572"

    As noted in my first paragraph "...I hold that fairness is not an issue when staking out one's pundit-turf." So I see from Mr. Fitzgerald's response the pundit battle has begun, and may the best one(s) win. Perhaps apologies are in order for referencing the MFA program I co-chair or the publications I write. But not from me. I am not only proud of these accomplishments, I draw inspiration from them. My "Dirty" assertion comes in part from witnessing how MFA students and other designers have responded and reacted to the previous decade and current concerns. Indeed I "cherrypicked" examples to fit my thesis, but the basic issues are, as noted, there for anyone to see. Graphic design is one of those disciplines that changes each time a new technology tests the standards. During the 90s retro, PoMo, neo-modernism, postpunk and vernacular were practiced - sometimes more appropriately than others - in the end a few unique manners and styles developed. But perhaps we should wait for Mr. Fitzgerald's book to learn more.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=1601"

    Eric. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. I will leave it to Phi-Hong to respond. But on a side note, I've always been fascinated in the compartmentalizing and redefining of jobs in the design field. Once there were only commercial artists, now there are none - but many many specialists.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=1600"

    From what I can ascertain through interviews with people around at the time,Sutnar lost his big clients and a younger generation was moving up. This was the case with some well established designers and illustrators who turned to "finer" arts. If Sutnar ran a large studio back then - like a Landor - he might have survived. But Sutnar was a one-man band with a few assistants and once he was deemed "old" he was no longer in demand. His friends put exhibits together so that he would get more attention and more work. He just didn't live long enough to be re-discovered.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2781"

    Ordinarily I'd agree that some of us are just too darn sensitive to innocent portrayals. And arguably - as I noted - these were friendly and successful comic trademarks designed to benignly brand a good product. Ordinarily, I cut some slack given the tenor and conventions of the times. But these are not entirely innocent. Institutional racism is insidious, it occurs when non-racists do insensitive things because convention dictates it okay. There were many Darkie trade characters in American commercial culture that in addition to being comic, created a stereotype that ultimately had negative implications for the group or individuals. I'd say exploiting racial or ethnic characteristics for these purposes is questionable at best. Defending them in light of today's consciousness is like saying it was and is okay. Racism is not as simple as black and white, there are many shades of prejudice, some of it quite friendly, like these characters.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2089"

    Rachel - Your last comment strikes me as rather shortsighted. Whether you renew your membership or not is no concern of mine. But your rationale is odd. Whatever the position of the author and article on this site, it is but one of many articles on design and its intersection with culture, society, and politics, not the sum of AIGA's focus. This space has also afforded you and others the opportunity to argue, debate, and discuss the concerns raised by the author, an AIGA member. I cannot for the life of me see why that becomes an impediment to membership in an organization that presumably has served your needs until this moment. Whatever you choose to do is your right, but don't blame it on the red herring that design is design and politics is politics and never the twain should meet. This is a forum for many ideas, and will always be so.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=2089"

    Mr. Anonymous You wrote: The time I have spent reading this article is time that I, regrettably, can never get back. I hope you are proud of yourself. I am leaving this site, never to return. Since you'll never return you probably won't read this. But. . . aside from the fact that you have every right to not like the content of this site, I find your comment to be typical of blog-whine - readers who feel it is their obligation to denigrate without leaving anything constructive in return. Other commenters - pro or con - express valid viewpoints in ways that are thoughtful and respectful, not to mentioned signed. Not signing your comment, a habit among hit and run flame throwers, is little more than cowardly.

  • Steven Heller commented on the article "http://www.aiga.org/interior.aspx?pageid=3080&id=1936"

    First, I can see that some of you are truly not certain if this is real or not. It is not. Totally fabricated. I wrote it as a piece of satire after reading all the press (including a cover story in New York Magazine) about the new Apple products where Jobs - the genius behind and the spokesperson of the company - is front and center in his trademark gear. As Clyde Boyer rightly points out this is a joke and product placement, but also a commentary on how products are sold, mythologies developed, brands established, and consumers are drawn into manipulative experiences. How does this pertain to a journal of Design? Steve Jobs is design. When he gets up before the public he is a logo. His uniform is key to this corporate identity. I suppose I could have said as much in an analytical narrative, but I chose to write it as I felt it. There is something comic about it, no? Frankly, I enjoy how he's branded himself in relation to his usually wonderful products. Look how different he and Bill Gates are in this regard. Its fascinating. What's more I'm sure I'm not alone in wanting to ask these questions, and I'm sure its the last thing he'd want to talk about because it would pierce a well cultivated facade.