I don’t know exactly where or when I first came across the work of Hillman Curtis. I have a distinct memory of watching his Stefan Sagmeister film sometime during my senior year of high school. I proceeded to watch the rest oh his Artists Series, each of which left me inspired as I left for college and started my journey to graphic design.

I found myself returning to the films every few months during my first two years of school and having discussions with professors that derived from Hillman’s work. When I dabbled in film a few years ago, his short films were an inspiration. I know a lot of designers feel the same way and it was truly amazing to watch the outpouring of love and memories on Twitter through out the day.

Hillman died today after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 51.

“[S]top acting like decorators. The more we cater to demands like, “I need a mockup of a brand new design for our homepage in two hours to show to our investors,” the more we reinforce the notion that we just ‘make pretty’. That’s not design, that’s being a pixel-monkey.”

Josh Brewer, Principle Designer at Twitter from this interview with The Web Standardistas. He continues:

Another thing, and maybe the most important, is to talk about and share our design process. Helping people understand what it is we do when and how we do it is key in changing that perception. It gives them a vocabulary and a context that changes the way the conversation happens and ultimately can lead to more collaboration up-front, which is a good thing.

“We don’t do focus groups - that is the job of the designer. It’s unfair to ask people who don’t have a sense of the opportunities of tomorrow from the context of today to design.”
Sir Jonathan Ive, on Apple’s design process
“A book ought to not only document its contents but actually perform or enact its contents. In an ideal case, those things are so seamlessly integrated that sometimes it’s hard to tease out the content from the form.”
Prem Krishnamurthy of Project Projects on the format of the book in this great interview from Triple Canopy.

Here’s a great video of typography legend Herb Lubalin talking about the design of the PBS logo complete with a great animation showing the other options he presented.

“I see graphic design as a matter of solving problems; art as a matter of inventing them.”
In 1969, Charles Eames drew a diagram focusing on the design process and the overlapping interests of the designer, client, and society.


  If this area represents the interest and concern for the design office, 
  and this the area of genuine interest to the client
  and this the concerns of society as a whole
  then it is in this area of overlapping interest and concern that the designer can work with conviction and enthusiasm.
  Note: these area are not stated—they grow and develop as each one influences others.
  Note: putting more than one client in the model builds the relationshop in a positive and constructive way.


More than forty years later and the diagram still works and represents an optimal experience for the designer-client relationship.

In 1969, Charles Eames drew a diagram focusing on the design process and the overlapping interests of the designer, client, and society.

  1. If this area represents the interest and concern for the design office,
  2. and this the area of genuine interest to the client
  3. and this the concerns of society as a whole
  4. then it is in this area of overlapping interest and concern that the designer can work with conviction and enthusiasm.

Note: these area are not stated—they grow and develop as each one influences others.
Note: putting more than one client in the model builds the relationshop in a positive and constructive way.

More than forty years later and the diagram still works and represents an optimal experience for the designer-client relationship.

“My position is that a designer is—or should be—first a poet.”

Alberto Alessi

I’ve been reading more poetry lately and can’t help thinking that a poet is just a designer with words.

“I am troubled by the devaluing of the word ‘design’. I find myself now being somewhat embarrassed to be called a designer. In fact I prefer the German term, Gestalt-Ingenieur. Apple and Vitsoe are relatively lone voices treating the discipline of design seriously in all corners of their businesses. They understand that design is not simply an adjective to place in front of a product’s name to somehow artificially enhance its value. Ever fewer people appear to understand that design is a serious profession; and for our future welfare we need more companies to take that profession seriously.”

Wim Crouwel’s advice for young designers:

Keep your radar turning and pick up everything that you love. But in the same time, be very sure that you find your own way in it and not be brought off your own path by all the things that happen in the world.

I found this short film on iconic designer Michael Wolff to be endlessly inspiring.

He spends quite a of time talking about the importance of noticing, which is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I think it’s something inherent to designers and visual thinkers; we are constantly looking around us, often subconsciously building up an inspiration library of sorts within our heads. To notice something is to actually see it, not merely look at it. I think we could all be better off by noticing things more.