Graphic Design Then and Now

While cleaning out an old file cabinet, I discovered a note Seymour Chwast wrote me after I visited his studio the year he was inducted into the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. If you want to know who’s who in my field, take a look at Chwast’s archives. I had forgotten about visiting Chwast and the famous studio he cofounded (Push Pin Studios), but judging by the wear and tear and holes in the left corner, I must have had the note posted and packed numerous times while moving from apartment to apartment in New York.

Those were the days before the internet messed up job hunting. To find new work, rather than sending an email that got lost among hundreds, you would just show up. Actually, I still do that on occasion, the nonconformist that I am. I encourage new grads to do the same, but I don’t think they listen to me.

Letters-drawn-by-handMy cleaning spree also revealed lots of hand-drawn logo studies, such as this one for Legendary Foods. Everything started with drawing back then. Seymour Chwast has faithfully maintained the drawing discipline, but sadly most of us designers have gotten lazy, due to digital tools at our disposal. Don’t get me wrong, I love Adobe applications and I’ve made a lot of money thanks to Steve Jobs, but I want to stop shortchanging the step of conceptualizing on paper first. Different things happen with a real pencil, sketchpad, and kneaded eraser. What, you don’t know what a kneaded eraser is!? If that’s the case, do get yourself one and have fun. While you’re at it, maybe you can write a real note to someone, rather than an email. A real note that someone can post on their wall, then store in a drawer for twenty years, then take out and post again—digitally, if not literally.