born in 1962, bregenz, austria. stefan sagmeister
studied graphic design at the university of
applied arts in vienna. in 1987 he moved to new york
to attended pratt institute on a fulbright scholarship.
he then returned to austria in 1990 for community service
as an alternative to obligatory military conscription.
at the age 29, he attained a job with leo burnett hong kong.
in 1993 he returned to new york to work for the hungarian
graphic designer tibor kalman at M&Co. when the studio
closed the same year, sagmeister opened his own office
‘sagmeister inc’. in 1994 he was nominated for a grammy
award for his album cover – ‘h. p. zinker mountains of madness’.
in the following years he designed album packaging for
artists such as david byrne, lou reed and the rolling stones.
in 1996 sagmeister began developed posters for AIGA
-american institue of graphic arts-
he took a ‘year out’ in 1999, closing his studio
to commercial work and concentrating on his own experimental
projects. in 2001 released the book ‘made you look
(another self-indulgent design monograph)’.
in 2005 he won a grammy award as art director of the
‘once in a lifetime’ talking heads boxed set packaging.
currently among many projects sagmeister continues his
work on ‘20 things in my life I have learned so far.’ a series
of typographic pieces inspired by the work of his grandfather
that he began in 2004.
The following are segments that i found most interesting out of an interview between designboom and stefan:
designboom met stefan sagmeister at his office in new york
on may 23rd, 2006.
much of your work is related to music…
I have always been interested in music
although now a diminishing part of my life.
growing older (I’m 43 now) I can say that looking back
music was much more important to me when I was 23.
what books do you have on your bedside table?
I just finished ‘the brooklyn follies’ by paul auster which I loved.
last week I read a picasso biography and I have just started
‘the last true story I’ll ever tell’ by john crawford, it’s an
account of a soldier in iraq. for pleasure I read fiction,
non-fiction really whatever comes my way.
do you read design magazines?
the studio has subscriptions to a number of them,
and I flick through them usually for pleasure not for
inspiration, and not usually in office hours.
where do you get news from? newspapers? TV?
not from TV, I cant stand TV news in america,
I read the new york times, which I find a good newspaper
although it is slanted towards one direction.
it’s probably my prime news-source.
when you were a child, did you want
to become a designer?
not as a child but as an adolescent, when I was around
15 or 16 I knew that I wanted to become a designer.
where do you work on your designs and projects?
everywhere, obviously the execution of them mostly in the
office. the conception of them everywhere, I travel quite a bit
and now I find it easy to work on a plane and I love to work
in a hotel room. I love to work in new fresh surroundings,
a new country…also i prefer working on concepts that don’t
have a deadline attached where I can work freely.
do you discuss your work with other graphic designers?
we have a group called ‘second tuesday’ and we meet every
second month. there are about 15 people who run design firms.
we always meet at someone’s home or studio, that person has
to organize dinner and a subject. sometimes these subjects are
quite practical such as finances. lately the topics have been
focused more towards administration and business rather than
do yo have any advice for the young?
try to be a good person and work your ass off.
what are you afraid of regarding the future?
hmm (thinks) not much, I wouldn’t call myself a very
gutsy person but I can’t say that I am scared of anything
regarding the future… not at all. I think that it’s going to be fine.
humanity adapts to all kinds of situations, and right now I think
is a good time to be alive.