TypograFriday: Sagmeister

We went to see Stefan Sagmeister talk at the Levi’s Workshop last week — sort of amazing, really, that one of the most famous designers in the world spoke to an audience of maybe 200, for free. For those who are unfamiliar with our profession’s enfant terrible, he’s a smart and humorous designer with a refreshingly honest standpoint.

What you may not know is that after seven years of running his studio, he took a full year off for inspiration and exploration, and intends to do this every seven years. He justifies this decision admirably well, and as he is prone to saying, Having guts always works out for me.

He showed slides of a few of the projects from his second one, from which he recently returned, from Bali. His first, where he stayed in New York, he considers mostly a failure. And yet, a page from a diary from that first year headed Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far has provided him the content for dozens of high-profile projects for a variety of clients over the last several years (plus a very-cleverly designed book and community-participatory website).

Some of the entries are thought-provoking like koans, like Jenny Holzer truisms. Others are shockingly banal, at least when you’re expecting Holzer-level thinking. But the typographic settings of them (often made with collaborators such as Marian Bantjes) are always interesting.

sagmeister_sugar

sagmeister_pennies

sagmeister_complaining

Oh in case you’re wondering: this Absolut ad isn’t Sagmeister but a complete (if well-executed) ripoff of his style.