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Sagmeister believes art should make a statement and should have a purpose. He has a knack for dissolving boundaries and often blends genre movements. His designs are associated mainly with the contemporary genre and are very conceptually-based. Sagmeister always tries to provoke thought and feeling out of his viewers and demonstrates this with his heart-felt and statement-making designs.
Sagmeister keeps his designs fresh by adhering to unique methods that help him relax and keep up with the tedious parts of design. One of his unique methods is to take a year-long sabbatical every seven years to reboot and learn new techniques as an artist. He turned down a design job for Barak Obama’s presidential campaign because he was currently on sabbatical. Sagmeister chooses his projects carefully and tries to keep his design business small. His favorite time to complete design work is in the early morning because the office is quiet and he has time to really think about the concepts. He enjoys working in fresh surroundings like a new country or a hotel room to encourage free thinking
and new creativity. Sagmeister is influenced by everything he sees and encounters. His inspiration often comes from unique places such as his journal where he records life lessons and things he has learned through his designs. These works were later published in magazines and poster campaigns. He has recently been influenced by fashion and the textures and structure of clothing through the help of his designer girlfriend. Through different methods and influences, Sagmeister has managed to keep his designs unique and his own. Regardless of different methods and influences that have changed Sagmeister’s designs, his main goal has always been to touch other human beings. Sagmeister has said, “You look at a piece of graphic design and you have a moving experience. All of us were moved at one point or another by a piece of art, struck to the core by a movie, changed by a book, touched by a piece of music. Fewer of us experience this in front of a piece of design, - it is possible nevertheless.” Stefan Sagmeister will continue to change the design world with his provocative designs and ability to stimulate thought and feeling in his viewers.
“All of us were moved at one point
or another by a piece
American Institute of Graphic Arts Jambalaya Poster, 1997Designer: Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister is an innovative graphic designer and typographer that has brought a contemporary and conceptual feel to his art. He has influenced the graphic design world with his boldness and ability to surpass boundaries. Sagmeister was born in Bregenz, Austria in 1962. He has loved graphic design since he was fifteen years old and has studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the Pratt Institute in New York City. Although he was rejected at first from art school, he eventually was accepted and later received a full scholarship. His first design job was working for Alphorn magazine when he was sixteen years old. When talking about his first design job, Sagmeister recalled, “We used old Letraset sheets donated by design companies, and the most popular letters - ‘e’ and ‘s’ - were always missing. Rather than making a new ‘e’ from an ‘f’ and a ‘y’, it was easier to draw them.”
This job gave Sagmeister the experience and desire to become a typographer and designer. He has since worked in Hong Kong for Leo Burnett’s Hong Kong Design Group and Tibor Kalman’s M&Co design company. He now owns his own graphic design studio, Sagmeister, Inc., based in New York City. His design work varies between graphic design, sculpture, photography, video, typography, and performance art. Although Sagmeister has received criticism and mixed reviews over his controversial and provocative work, he has continually amazed the design world with his ability to mesh art and design in each of his pieces.
Many cultural events and past experiences have influenced Sagmeister and have helped him become the designer he is today. His own grandfather was a sign painter and Sagmeister grew up with signs and pieces of his grandfather’s work around the house. He is also influenced artistically by the rustic surroundings of his hometown of Bregenz, Austria.
Sagmeister has also been influenced by the music of his youth such as The Ramones and The Sex Pistols and has often created designs and type in the grunge style of punk albums and 1970’s graphic art. After high school, Sagmeister studied at a local engineering school. Many of his designs have had an architectural feel and structure to them. Even Sagmeister’s favorite typeface, Gotham by Tobias Frere-Jones, a geometric sans serif, was influenced by the architectural feel of New York City.
Sagmeister studied design at the Pratt Institute in New York City in the late 80’s. During this time, computers began their explosive growth and then became a major need to businesses. Despite the use of computers, Sagmeister has kept the hand-made quality in his designs that he has become known for. The gay rights movement also became more accepted during this time and influenced a lot of art to be bold, edgy, and provocative. Much of Sagmeister’s work reflects this. New York City was also the birth place of many different styles of music at this time, including hard rock, heavy metal, punk, and hip hop music. These new music styles influenced art and pop culture, creating the new style of grunge that is seen in several of Sagmeister’s design work.
Stefan Sagmeister’s design style has changed and varied throughout the years but has remained constant in its hand-made quality and humanistic feel. At the beginning of his career, Sagmeister tried not to have a style. He has since realized that each designer needs to have a personal style in order to keep their work fresh and original. He has contributed to the design world through his hand-made type and humanistic design style. Sagmeister prides himself in creating things by hand rather than using the computer. Several reoccurring themes in his work are his optical tricks, hand-made quality, bold designs, and lack of white space.
Austrian Graphic Designer and TypographerStefan