Stefan Sagmeister, formerly known as Stefan Sagmeister.

Stefan Sagmeister, formerly known as Stefan Sagmeister.

Dear Stefan, I remember buying your book immediately after it was published, started browsing it with growing fascination, viewed it and discussed it with my students and (SHAME ON ME) never found the time to read it. But: YOU MADE ME LOOK! A few weeks ago, at last, I started reading… Again with upgrading fascination. I was touched with a certain feeling of recognition: YOU MADE ME HURT! How many times did we share – as designers – similar experiences working for clients and how many times did we push our ideas as the best fitting answer to their needs? Of course, we were all looking for ultimate satisfaction and recognition, not an easy thing to accomplish since clients can be so demanding. Therefore, a few years ago, you decided to get out of the business for some time. A very honest way to keep things pure, I must admit. So, this leads me to the first question:

Would you recommend this ‘out of business period’ to every designer worldwide?

Recommending things to others that worked out for me is often a questionable endeavour. This period did have a lasting impact on me because of my particular situation: when we took our year without clients, the studio had then been open for 7 years and we were overworked on one hand and lust-less on the other. Ed Fella’s visit to the studio showing us his experimental typography sketchbooks has also had a big influence. Over those 7 years a whole slew of questions had accumulated waiting that I wanted to investigate. So, as a result and for example, I would not recommend it to anybody fresh out of school. 

It is not a coincidence that there is a relation between you and Tibor Kalman, since you have worked together in M&Co. I don’t think neither Tibor nor you are just graphic designers. Is ‘graphic design’ as a term not too narrow-minded? I have a new one in mind but first I want to know yours?

Sorry, I find a discussion about the exact terminology on what to call our profession beside the point. I have seen dozens of terms being suggested over the years (and now I can not remember more than three), this is simply not where my interest lies. I myself do not mind being called simply a designer. That’s what I studied when I went to art school. 

About Art. Artists mostly look down on designers. In some way, both worlds keep quite separated. How is this still possible?

For all the talk about how the borders between the two fields are merging, in day-to-day operations they are almost still fully separated. There is different media reviewing the work (art magazines rarely concern themselves with designers and design magazines only superficially deal with art). The most elegant definition I had come across is from Donald Judd: Design has to work,art does not. Our output has to work.

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Interview with the most awarded 'enfant terrible' of graphic design worldwide. Published in Addmagazine, issue 2/2006. Language: English.

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