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11 influential Graphic Designers

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11 influential Graphic Designers

11 Names That Every Graphic Designer Should Absolutely Know About

Motivation is essential for everyone. Even more so for graphic designers because they are artists who thrive on creativity. But from where can someone get motivation? The answer is simple: From idols.

Whether you are a pro graphic designer or just someone starting out, it is recommended that not only should you study the work of some of the famous graphic designers but you should also know about the graphic designers themselves. This is because all of them have played a pivotal role in making graphic designing a field so popular today. By understanding their contributions, who they were as individuals, and what their lifestyle was you can learn valuable lessons that can allow you to step up your game.

So, let’s get started.             

Rob Janoff

Born in Culver City, California, United States and educated at San Jose State University, Rob Janoff is the man behind one of the most famous logos of all time – The Apple Logo. The iconic 1980’s Apple logo, which is still very much in use today even though it has been tailored is a testament to Rob’s immaculate simple design that still makes people’s hearts skip a beat. The fact that he designed the logo in just 2 weeks is also worth appreciating. The Apple (Name of the company), the bite (A computer term) in it plus the color scheme representing the fact that Apple’s computer at that time was the only one capable enough to reproduce color images are all in sync. That’s the beauty of the logo. Each and every part had a specific meaning.

Rob continued to work for Apple and later on had designing related gigs at both IBM as well as Intel. Also, much more recently Rob has made logos for companies such as Sarraf Strata, IBank, and Langone.

Chip Kidd

Educated at Pennsylvania State University and based in New York, Chip Kidd is the go-to guy when it comes to designing book/novel covers. Odds are that most of the popular books that you have read had their covers designed by Chip Kidd. That’s how much in demand he has been. He has been active since the 1980s when he started working for Knopf where he still works as an art director.

Chip is mostly recognized for his cover of the Jurassic Park that was not only included in the book but also the movie as well as the merchandise. Moreover, his charismatic personality as evident by his looks, dressing style, the way he talks is clearly visible in his work as well.

Massimo Vignelli

The Italian born designer passed away in 2014 but his legacy is just going to carry on and on. Such was the impact of his work over half a century that his principles pertaining to designing provide valuable lessons to both conventional and digital designers.

Do you remember Bloomingdale's “Big Brown Bag” designs? For sure, you do because you just cannot forget it. Guess who designed it? Yes. Massimo Vignelli did. In addition to that, he did substantial work for Ford, IBM, and American Airlines among other giant companies. Moreover, his designs for the New York’s subway map are living proof of his designing capabilities.

Michael Beirut

An alumnus of the University of Cincinnati and protégé of Massimo Vignelli, Beirut has been active since the 1980s. His specialties include identity and print work as well as design writing. Being the partner at Pentagram – which is no mean feat by the way – and critic as well as an educator at Yale, Beirut keeps himself quite occupied. His impressive portfolio includes branding for Walt Disney, New York Jets, Benetton, and Billboard Magazine. Hence, its no surprise after all that he has won quite a few awards.

He says that being immersed in one’s work and delving deep into the subject matter through one’s inspiration is what leads to great designs. Also, he highlights that talented designers are those who are bright and articulate.

Paula Scher

Paula, who got her Bachelor of Arts from Tyler School of Art has heavily contributed to making graphic designing an illustrious career pathway. She made it through the arduous times of the 70’s all on her own through her one of a kind approach towards design. Today, she is the embodiment of illustration, branding, and designing album covers. She designed the Microsoft Windows 8 logo in 2012 which took Microsoft back to its roots and was a success. Also, she was the first female principal at the esteemed Pentagram.

Paula is not only a graphic designer but also a painter and an educator. She has won numerous awards for her outstanding work and contribution. Her belief that no design is timeless urges designers to be creative, stay on their feet all the times and not take anything for granted.

She has worked in the advertisement departments of CBS and Atlantic records. Moreover, she has designed for famous companies as well as institutions such as The New York Times Magazine, The American Museum of Natural History, and Philips Van Heusen.

Peter Saville

Having studied Graphics designing at Manchester Polytechnic, Peter Saville Cofounded Factory Records and designed several record sleeves. He rose to fame after having designed album covers for popular bands such as Blue Monday, New Order, and Joy Division among several others. However, he soon moved into fashion and arts.

He has worked as the creative director of Manchester, designed England’s football kit, and worked closely with several leading fashion icons. Such is the tenacity of the man that he is still going strong as he recently re-designed Burberry’s logo.

Saying that he is probably one of the most iconic graphic designers of all times will be an understatement because his contribution to the world of graphic designing over five decades has been phenomenal.

Saul Bass

You like Goodfellas and Casino, don’t you? Any idea as to who did the graphics for these blockbusters? Yes, you guessed it right. It’s none other than Saul Bass, who is arguably the most prominent graphics designer of 20th Century. He truly is a legend who got global recognition for the extraordinary work he did in several film titles sequences. His portfolio includes movies such as Vertigo, Hitchcock, Pyscho, and Anatomy of a Murder among several others. Other than film titles and opening sequences for movies he also was involved in graphic as well as logo designing. He designed logos for prestigious companies such as United Airlines, Kleenex, AT&T, and many others.

His work has been known to generate excitement in the viewers. Martin Scorsese summed up Saul’s genius brilliantly when he said, “When we were growing up and seeing movies, we came to recognize Saul’s designs ... They made the picture instantly special. And they didn’t stand apart from the movie, they drew you into it, instantly. Because, putting it very simply, Saul was a great film-maker. He would look at the film in question, and he would understand the rhythm, the structure, the mood – he would penetrate the heart of the movie and find its secret.” All in all, Saul’s work contains innumerable lessons for graphic designers.

Jonathan Barnbrook

One of the most renowned figures in typography, Jonathan Barnbrook is a British Graphic designer. His influence can partly be credited to David Bowie under whose shadow he worked for quite a while. However, it was his tendency to take risks and not bog down when it came to stretching the boundaries between design as an artistic medium and as a communication art.

While initially he was mostly known for Exocet that became the most pirated font on the internet, he was later acknowledged for typefaces Tourette and Bastard. His best work to date has been the sleeve design of David Bowie’s album Blackstar. This was what really put him in the limelight. Safe to say, Jonathan Barnbrook has been a bit of a rebel but one who has created the most popular type-faced design in the modern era.

George Lois

Back in the day, when it came to magazine design, no one was more popular than George Lois. He enjoyed a golden run in the 1960s and 1970s, designing a total of 92 covers while he worked for Esquire magazine. The Muhammad Ali’s April 1968 cover was the standout. In addition to making a big impact as a magazine designer, George Lois also worked for popular brands such as MTV, ESPN, and Tommy Hilfiger.

George Lois always strived hard to create memorable designs because he knew that in order to drive sales for his clients he has to gain the attention of the audience by surprising them. Once in an interview, he said, “When I create an image, I want people to take a step back in awe when they see it for the first time. I want them to be taken back first by the strength of the image, then by the meaning of the content. This makes people understand what’s special about a product or how exciting and interesting a magazine is.” This pretty much sums up his approach.

Paul Rand

There has to be something special about Paul Rand if Steve Jobs went as far as to say that Rand is the greatest graphic designer of his age.

Paul Rand was born in Brooklyn, New York and attained his education at the Art Students League of New York and Parsons The New School for Design. While initially, he worked part-time for a syndicate, creating stock images, it didn’t take him long to be recognized as one of the best. He designed logos for companies such as IBM, ABC, NeXT Computers, Enron, and UPS. He also taught at Yale University and was later on included in the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

His contribution to graphic designing has been so immense that he is regarded as the one individual who turned graphic designing into a reputable job. Having embraced the Swiss Style of graphic designing, Paul Rand was keen on being creative and exploring. He was also a master salesman as he used to expertly pitch the logos he made for companies and explain how they would cater to audiences worldwide.

Carolyn Davidson

Carolyn’s biggest achievement by far was designing Nike’s logo. The Nike Swoosh logo, which probably is one of the most recognized logos of all time was made by her. Her simple yet effective idea of symbolizing positivity and motion while using the outline of the wing of the Goddess after whom the brand Nike was named showcases her creativity and ability to think on her feet.

While initially she just got paid $35 ($2 per hour for 17.5 hours of work), later when Nike went public she was given some shares that are worth approximately $1 million now. Not bad, huh?

The Conclusion

It goes without saying that you can learn a lot from the above-mentioned graphic designers. However, it is equally important that you don’t hold yourself back from following your own instincts. After all, there is no particular path to success. Just remember, that if you ever need any inspiration, all you need to do is go over this blog and embrace the lessons taught directly or indirectly by some of the greats in the world of graphic designing.