Design Influences – Revisited

From time to time, I like to go back to my old design school notes and revisit some of the designers and artists that have not only had an impact on myself, but on the profession at large. I will periodically update this listso check back every now and then. If I leave someone important out, well this is MY list after all, mmmkay? 🙂



Posted: Sept. 26 2013

4) Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser is considered by many to be the greatest and most influential graphic designer alive today. What first drew me to his work is his whimsical illustrative style and how his solutions feel so… I dunno, “right.” Looking at his work gives me the sense that he really enjoys what he is doing and is having a fun time with it. Whether it’s his iconic “I love New York” logo or his famous Dylan poster, Milton Glaser’s work influenced generations of artists and designers, and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future.

There is a nice YouTube video of Milton, I encourage you to give it a look:

iHeartNy-8744 miltonglaser_dylan saratoga-6477         books_mag_hypnotism-4283




Posted: Feb. 25 2013

3) Saul Bass

Saul Bass is the kind of graphic designer that makes other mortal graphic designers such as myself green with envy. What a career! The guy single-handedly revolutionized the way movie title sequences are designed and created extremely iconic movie posters, all while adding a laundry list of highly recognizable company logos to his portfolio. For those who do not know Saul Bass, I assure you — you DO know of his work, even if you were not aware of it.

Let’s start with movie title sequences. Before good ol’ Saul came around, movie title sequences were simple, static things separate from the movie — words on a screen. BORING. Saul Bass invented a new type of typography: “kinetic typography” in which the text not only moved across the screen, but, as Saul says he was doing, “try to reach for a simple, visual phrase that tells you what the picture is all about and evokes the essence of the story.” The results were over 40 years of working on title sequences starting with films like The Man with the Golden Arm, Psycho, North by Northwest, Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder and continuing 40 years to movies like Cape Fear, Goodfellas, Casino and countless others. When I say that you know his work — I really mean it.

Let’s touch on movie posters now. For many of the movies that he designed the title sequence, he also created the movie poster as well. And like the title sequences, they span decades: From movies like Vertigo (I have a large reproduction of his poster in my home) to Schindler’s List


vertigo-movie-poster-saul-bass saul-bass-the-shining-film-poster-1 1961 West Side Story

Of course Saul Bass did not work with movies alone. His logo work is expansive and includes such names as AT&T, Quaker Oats, YWCA, United Airlines, United Way, Girls Scouts of America, Continental Airlines, Lawry’s Food, and more.


I encourage anyone interested in an example of a truly sterling graphic design career to do more research on Saul Bass, as this quick synopsis does not do it justice.


Posted: Jan. 14 2013

2) Josef Müller-Brockmann

As a young design student, one thing that initially intimidated me about the profession was that, in some ways, it can be very subjective. My introduction to Josef Müller-Brockmann coincided with my course study of the Swiss Grid, which provided the structure and “rules” that I was longing for at the time. I was hooked. 

His dedication to the grid resulted in striking designs that were surprisingly simple, yet effective. I was lucky enough to see some of his actual concert and public awareness posters when they made their way to San Diego State University in a traveling exhibit. They were huge — over four feet high! The large size made the use of negative space all the more dramatic. 

After being introduced to his work, I was not the only student whose projects took on a surprising… well, lets say “similarity” to Josef Müller-Brockmann. Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Brockmann_500px_BetBrockmann_500px_Quiet Brockmann_500px_MV



Posted: Dec. 14 2012

1) Wucius Wong

Like many others, I first learned of Wucius Wong as a first-year design student. Principles of Two-Dimensional Design was the first of many books to pass before my eyes. I was young, impatient and wanted to hit the ground running with all things “design.” To be honest, I was initially a little bit underwhelmed when thumbing through the simple black-and-white pages. However, one needs to learn how to crawl before they can walk, and Wucius Wong laid out all the fundamentals for a solid understanding of design. From Form, Repetition and Structure, to Contrast, Texture, Anomaly and Space — this little book provided an understanding of design and composition that would help me not only with Graphic Design but photography as well. It still holds a place on my bookshelf to this day.