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One Famous Graphic Designer Would Rather His Products Be Called ‘Work’

By Matthew Bryant

You’ve probably seen his ‘I Love NY’ advertising blitz; innumerable amounts of bumper stickers, t-shirts and buttons flooded the state. His notable singer’s silhouette adorned with lightning bolts of colourful hair is well known to a whole generation.

If you have a record collection from now to the 1960′s, you probably have one of his works on an album cover. His widely-known work is known to millions of people, even if his name isn’t, but does this mean it is to be considered art? This designer chooses not to discuss this topic at length. He chooses to use different terms to refer to this subject. During an interview he said he felt the word “art” ought to be thrown out altogether and that creative expressions should simply be called “work”. And when it is a striking, visionary or otherwise out of the ordinary piece, it should be called a “great work”. If the work accomplishes its goal, we can call it good; we’ll call it bad if it fails.

You may have heard of a large exhibit he held; it showed the ‘Picasso of Design’s’ means of inspiration. Blazing, red nylon rope connected his work to its origins, showing the process drawings and beginning sketches. This is the process he follows. Sometimes you don’t know your exact destination, and only find it when you travel through life and stumble upon ideas.

The artist was inspired to create a ethereal painting by an angel postcard and a pair of paper wings. The inspiring items hang on the wall facing the final design. Another of example of his work, this one quite famous, hangs opposite an equally famous comic strip. He teases classical music’s stuffy ideas by showing a famous pianist sneezing.

As a designer, he feels that using the world’s visual resources help him to communicate a feeling and a message. For example, when commissioned by an Italian typewriter company to design a poster, he turned to a famous painting for inspiration. The original piece exhibits a grief-stricken dog, resting at the feet of his dead master. In the poster, a red typewriter replaces the deceased master.

This famous graphic designer has also been influential in starting a studio in New York that has lifted the sights of graphic designers. He helped to found a magazine for a major city, revolutionizing city magazines across the country. He has also designed an observation deck, restaurant and exhibition that were included in the World Trade Centre. Additionally, he conceived the worldwide AIDS poster and emblem, along with a supermarket chain. He likes to push the boundaries of design, which is one of the reasons he doesn’t like the singular term art as a descriptive of what he does, as he likes to do a little bit of everything.

You may recognize one of his most familiar works; over six million copies of this famous male singer’s poster were printed. The poster itself is abstract with elaborate colours in the hair that are similar to yet another famous artist. The designer jokes that people often think he was on drugs when he came up with these visuals. He has never said he took drugs, illegal or otherwise. Besides two-dimensional designs he’s also created massive playgrounds for both children and adults.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Bryant, Matthew "One Famous Graphic Designer Would Rather His Products Be Called ‘Work’." One Famous Graphic Designer Would Rather His Products Be Called ‘Work’. 3 Jul. 2010. 24 Oct 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Bryant, M (2010, July 3). One Famous Graphic Designer Would Rather His Products Be Called ‘Work’. Retrieved October 24, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Bryant, Matthew "One Famous Graphic Designer Would Rather His Products Be Called ‘Work’"

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