Month: November 2015

Futures Exhibition. RHA Gallery


On the 19th of November, the class of HND1 Graphic Design made a visit to the Royal Hibernian Academy. We were brought on a tour of the galleries by the director and curator Patrick T. Murphy. The assignment was for us to pick two artists who are exhibiting at the second series of Futures, anthology 2011-2014. Among 21 artists that exhibited their work, two of the artists that appealed to me were Jim Ricks and Peter Burns.

Jim Ricks

Jim Ricks is originally from California. He is a conceptual artist, curator, and writer. He has lived in Ireland for 10 years. He is a long time graffiti artist and a subversive.

He received a Masters of Fine Art from the National University of Ireland Galway and Burren College of Art programme. He earned an undergraduate degree in Photography from the California College of the Arts.

Alongside a number of group shows (Rua Red, Temple Bar Gallery & Studios, Royal Hibernian Academy, Galway Arts Festival, Tulca, Art Basel Miami Art Public), and solo shows at Pallas Projects, The Black Mariah, 126 Artist-run Gallery, the Dublin City Gallery: The Hugh Lane, Onomatopee (NL), Jim Ricks has commissioned an Ed Ruscha knock-off in Kabul, worked with the Dublin City Gallery showing bizarre chatchkas alongside their permanent collection, created a bouncy megalithic sculpture (2 years before Jeremy Deller’s ‘Sacrilege’) with the Galway County Council, created an unauthorised McDonald’s seating area at Temple Bar Gallery & Studio across from a new McDonald’s, gave out Free ‘Wu Tang Clan’ tattoos (actual tattoos) in London with the Sluice Art Fair, broadcast women’s laughter for 24 hours on pirate radio, made a giant drone ‘war rug’ in Afghanistan for Rua Red.

Ricks was a member of the Temple Bar Gallery & Studios Curatorial Panel from 2012-15, and has curated exhibitions in Dublin, London, Cork, Madrid, Galway, Oakland, San Francisco with the support of Culture Ireland, The Volvo Ocean Race, 126 Artist-run Gallery, The Dublin City Gallery.

His predisposition for travel and trouble has informed his radical political perspective and heightened his love of the vernacular aesthetic. His work, characterized by urgent statements against imperialism, questions conventional notions of ‘fine art’ and aims to debunk capitalist mythologies. He appropriates disparate found objects from popular culture, sampling everything from The Economist to the developing world bazaar, and draws attention to the gap between real stories and ‘manufactured’ identity. Jim’s installations are informed by his background as street artist, agitprop designer and muralist. Other influences include back alleys, Dada, construction sites, poorly painted signs, abandoned factories and the aesthetic of the ‘dollar store’ display.

Samples of his work

Ducati Model 271
with The Black Mariah at Terminal Convention
Cork International Airport
March 2011

A reproduction of the inscription on a removed public sculpture in Tikrit, Iraq. It says: “Muntazer: fasting until the sword breaks its fast with blood; silent until our mouths speak the truth.” It is in honor of journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who hurled his shoes at Bush and called him a “dog” at a news conference during the former president’s final visit to Iraq. Ducati Model 271 is the type of shoe that was thrown.

jim ricks


Images of the monument


A Monument to Speaking Your Mind

Áras na Mac Léinn
National University of Ireland, Galway
2007 – 2008

Public kiosk located at the National University of Ireland, Galway during the winter 2007–2008. The work is a tribute to an unidentified Chinese protester. A watercolour reproduction of his sign, the Guardian newspaper article, and postcards with his image were on display. The computer ran on Xubuntu, an open source operating system, and offered it for download.

jim ricks

The article that inspired ‘A Monument to Speaking your mind’

jim ricks

The piece that was at the Royal Hibernian Academy:

“Carpet Bombing”
Telling Lies, with Terry Atkinson, Alan Butler, Cliona Harmey, Eva & Franco Mattes, Theresa Nanigian, Jane Queally, Jim Ricks, Martha Rosler, Sean Synder, Suzanne Treister.
April – May 2015

5m x 3.5m Wool carpet, handmade in Afghanistan. Carpet produced with Haji Naseer Ahmad & Sons Carpet Shop, Kabul; Design: Ruben Pater, Amsterdam. Commissioned by Rua Red. Very special thanks to Amir Shah.

The piece considers the difference between ‘truths’. There is the day to day truth of Afghans, and the historical function of the carpet in social life e.g. where one sits to relax, smoke, eat. Then there is of course the official ‘truths’. These of course contradict. One purports a scientific precision to the US drone strikes, another that these cause countless civilian deaths and is inhumane. That said, this work is less direct, perhaps even ambivalent to these official narratives. Having travelled two times to Afghanistan, it is clear that the reality of Afghan’s views are somewhere totally different. And somewhere far more complex than is thought on the outside.

I think of the central market place: The Bush Bazaar, as an example. George Bush is regarded highly in Kabul as he rid the place of the much despised Taliban. Another example: the Pakistani locals in Waziristan (not the militants) quite like US drones because they kill the outsiders who have turned their villages into terrorist encampments. But this remains a private opinion, because it’s not the approved Pakistani version of events.

The carpet makers:  Haji Naseer Ahmad & Sons. The blueprint was enlarged to scale and the carpet was made out of wool.

Carpet in the making

Jim Ricks and the carpet.

Link to his website:

Peter Burns

Peter Burns is an Irish artist based in Belfast. He has a Masters in Fine Art and Bachelor of Arts Degree, Sculpture from the National College of Art and Design. He has exhibited all over Ireland as a solo artist or in a group. He mostly uses oil paints which has multiple layers and applied on generously. He used a variety of techniques to enliven the surfaces of the paintings. Chinks of old dried paint from the palette are attached to the canvas in places, while on other parts of the canvas, paint is scraped off to reveal underlying layers. At the Futures Exhibition, the works he displayed were inspired by fantasy and surrealistic landscapes along with little human figures.

Photos I took at the gallery:


Samples of his work:




Link to his website:

I came up with three works inspired by Jim Ricks & Peter Burns’s style.

One is titled Peace (based on Jim Rick’s Ducati Model 271) 

It was done with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.

Here is the finished piece:



Finished pieces based on Peter Burn’s artworks: I used oil pastels and oil paints on canvas board: Used the first artwork titled ‘Girl in room’ as a cover for the essay.


El Lissitsky: The Artist & The State

El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State 

On the 25th of September 2015, the class of HND1 visited the Irish Museum of Modern Arts in Kilmainham. There were two exhibitions, one titled ‘El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State’ and another titled “What We Call Love: From Surrealism to Now Exhibition”. I chose to focus on works by El Lissitzky which were displayed in the Garden Galleries.   The exhibition was to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising and the establishment of the new Republic.  This exhibition consists of contemporary and old masters who gave voice to a new image for the emerging state. Contemporary artists that participated in the exhibition were Rossella Biscotti, Nuria Guell, Sarah Pierce, Annie Fletcher and Sarah Fletchie.

About El Lissitzky

El Lissitzky was a Russian architect, artist, painter, photographer and typographer who worked throughout the first half of the 20th century. El Lissitzky was born Eleazar Markovich Lisitskii, in the town of Pochinok, situated in the western region of Russia. After studying architectural engineering in Darmstadt, Germany, he then became a teacher in the architecture faculty of an art academy in Vitebsk, Belarus. As a cultural ambassador for the Soviet Union, he was a vital link between Soviet culture and the Western art.

El Lissitzky was influenced by an abstract artist named Kazimir Malevich, whose works were called Suprematist. He used geometric forms and bright colours. El Lissitzky, along with the other artists in the exhibition envisaged their creative practice as tools for social and political change. For example; geometry has no particular style and is thought to be communal. All the decorative features were stripped, giving it a clean, energetic and effective look. El Lissitzky used bold fonts for lettering to emphasize the message. He commonly used the colour red to symbolize the red army or the Workers and Peasants army of the Soviet Union. Here are three samples of his work which were displayed at the exhibition:

El Lissitsky’s works

In 1922, El Lissitzky produced his first children’s book titled ‘About 2 squares’. The story is about two squares, one red and the other black, who join forces to shatter chaos and establish a new order. The artist encourages children to participate by featuring notes or play re-enactments of the story by using basic materials at hand. El Lissistzky uses a palette of primary colours, black and white, text, and basic forms and shapes both real as well as invented geometric constructions – to tell stories, including traditional Jewish tales, and to make very powerful political statements.


The four fundamental ways of arithmetic (1928). These are reprints, which are silkscreen on paper (1976) also using bold fonts and colours.


Victory Over the Sun was made after seeing a futuristic Russian opera.  It is a series of architectonic figures. The opera inspired El Lissitsky to recreate the main protagonists as Suprematist automatons. The series consists of ten large colour lithographs


Close ups of El Lissitzky’s work inspired by Victory over the sun opera

.2 3

A sketch of costumes done by Kazimir Malevich for Victory over the Sun opera.


Proun, Street Celebration Design. Done using gouche on paper and painted photograph collage mounted on cardboard. Proun series are two-dimensional Suprematist paintings which combines architecture and three-dimensional space with traditional, albeit abstract, two-dimensional imagery. It leaves the viewer to imagine the possibilities, things that can be constructed.


Cover design for the Unchained Theatre. Notes from stage manager by Alexander Talroff. Letterpress print on paper.



A World to Win Exhibition

We had a class trip to the National Print Museum. An exhibition called ‘A World to Win’ was on. In response to that exhibition, we are to create a poster that underlines the theme of protest and revolution.

Here are the posters that caught my eye:

Posters inspired by the Russian Revolution, using illustrations of figures and muted colours with block letters to catch the eye.


I chose to make a poster as a protest against the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service. Every year hundreds of immigrants including myself have to queue outside the building to renew our visas. Some queues go all the way  in the street  from Burgh Quay, down Corn Exchange Place and Poolbeg Street, and onto Hawkins Street. From students to families, applicants from around the world arrived to claim one of the highly sought after tickets which would allow them to enter the INIS office and hand over their application papers.

The issue of the length of the queue has been on ongoing source of controversy as immigrants are forced to stand on the street for hours, with some turned away and told to return the following day in the event of the office closing. Imagine standing with your child before dawn during winter and waiting till 9 PM only to be told to return again the next day.

Below is a quote taken from

 In order to obtain a visa to live in Ireland, non-EU citizens have to queue outside the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) building on Burgh Quay, Dublin. People are now *queueing overnight*, from 8 pm, until 8 am the next morning. This is unacceptable.
It has now been a decade since the first consultation on an Immigration Residency and Protection Bill, but with no reform in sight. The GNIB and INIS have always been inefficient, but the recent scenes outside the GNIB are proof of the failure of successive governments to honor commitments to reform the immigration legislation.
As non-citizens, we are unable to vote. Hence, politicians have been able to ignore this issue with impunity. However, this has turned into a human rights issue. There are pregnant women, mothers and fathers with their babies, their children, old people waiting on the streets for hours, in the cold. This is no way to treat honest, tax-paying residents. It is degrading and humiliating. The level of ignorance and inaction on this issue, is sickening.
We understand that change and innovation in governmental organizations is slow all over the world. All we are asking for, is an online appointment system tool to be integrated into the re-entry visa system. Online Appointment System tools exist all over the world, we’re not asking INIS to re-invent the wheel.
The situation we find ourselves in is beyond contempt, and as tax-payers, we hope for an immediate action by the Irish government

Here is an article from the Irish Times highlighting the issue:

Below are images of the queue:

Irish Minister of Justice & Equality Frances Fitzgerald: We call on the Irish government to bring an online appointment system

Here’s option 1 of the finished poster using crayons and Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop for text:


Final outcome: Simplified, image and text at the bottom. Illustrations done with pencils.


Vinyl Cover

We are to design a vinyl cover based on lyrics/singer. I picked Lana  Del Rey and the song Gods and monsters. I found the song appealing because it is dark and represents her melancholic, craving for recognition side. The song was used in American Horror Story Freak Show series. The show was riveting because it was very dark and violent. The song is about the different sides of people, the beautiful and the ugly.

Research on other illustrators:

Marian Bantjes


Bantjes started working in the field of visual communication in 1983 and worked as a book typesetter from 1984–1994. She became well known as a talented graphic designer from 1994–2003, when she was a partner and senior designer at Digitopolis in Vancouver, BC, Canada, where she created identity and communication designs for a wide range of corporate, education and arts organizations. She owned and ran the design firm, with a small staff.

In 2003 Marian left her firm and “strategic design” behind to embark on the work that she has since become internationally known for. Describing herself as a Graphic Artist, working primarily with custom type and ornament, Bantjes’ highly personal, obsessive and sometimes strange graphic work has brought her international recognition and fame as a world-class visual designer. Bantjes is known for her detailed and lovingly precise vector art, obsessive hand work, patterning and highly ornamental style.

Bantjes’ clients include Pentagram, Stefan Sagmeister, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bruce Mau Design, Young & Rubicam Chicago, Anni Kuan, Houghton Mifflin, Print MagazineWallpaper* , WIREDThe Guardian (UK)The New York Times, among others. She has also worked on design materials for AIGA, TypeCon 2007, and the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada (GDC).

Her work has been featured in STEPétapes (Paris), AzureMatrix (Quebec) Tupigrafia (Brazil) and PrintFontshop’s Font 004, and Eye magazine (#58). She has written the design book “I wonder”, published by the Monacelli Press, which was dubbed one of the 13 best design books of 2010 by Fastco design. Bantjes has been honored with numerous awards and her work is now part of the permanent collection at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Bantjes is an accomplished writer on the subjects of typography and design, and was a regular contributor to the popular design website Speak Up. Bantjes is frequently invited to sit on design award juries and speak at design conferences and design schools around the world. Bantjes says “throwing your individuality into a project is heresy” but she has built a career doing just that, as her signature style is unmistakable. In 2007 she released Restraint, a typeface that integrates her style of ornamentation to be used as shapes and borders.

From 2002–2006 Bantjes served as the Communications VP of the Society of Graphic Designers in British Columbia. She was also the Chair and Creative Director of the 2006 Graphex Canadian design awards. In 2008 Bantjes was invited back to serve as a judge for ‘Graphex 2008 Canadian National Design Awards’. Bantjes lives and works internationally from her base on Bowen Island off the west coast of Canada, near Vancouver, BC.

Taken from

Samples of her work:

HERO bantjes_2010-v8 b11


Ben Newman


BEN NEWMAN has developed a distinct aesthetic over the years; a contemporary fusion of bold shapes, bright colours and playful characters which has been described as ‘bauhaus fuzzy felt.’ He has produced work for a large range of clients, including the Tate Modern, New York Times, BBC Radio 4, Google and Volkswagon. His practice extends outside of commercial work into worldwide exhibitions, three dimensional collaborations and most recently a children’s book with Dr. Dominic Walliman, Professor Astro Cat’s Frontiers of Space, published by Flying Eye Books.

Concurrent to working as a freelance illustrator, Newman lectures on illustration at various universities and conferences in the UK and Europe. He occasionally works as an art director for Nobrow and Flying Eye Books

Taken from

Samples of his work:

BenNewman nb5_spread_templatefinal

Steve Simpson


For 30 years Steve Simpson has been applying his multi-disciplinary skills to creative projects for a diverse range of clients right across the globe. Steve’s innovative, award winning approach to graphic design, typography and illustration is built on fresh thinking, traditional skills and dose of fun. Steve lives on the east coast of Ireland where a good sense of humour is essential.
Clients include:
Vodafone, Heinze, Guinness, Heineken, Bushmills, Absolut, Three Mobile, 7up, Kellogg’s, Rowntrees, Hertz, Jameson, Aer Lingus, Dettol, Penguin Books NYC, Simon & Schuster NYC, Scholastics NYC, American Airlines, Wired Magazine, New Scientist, Wall Street Journal.Advertising Agencies:
Ogilvy & Mather, Publicis QMP, Irish International, Cawley Nea\TBWA, RMG Target, McConnell’s, McCann Erickson, DDFH&B, Tequila, Euro RSCG.
Samples of his work:
     The illustrator that I chose is Harry Clarke. I love his style of illustrations. How dark and magical it looks. I love his attention to detail. His characters are 2dimensional, and have deep set eyes, like a portrayal of himself.
Here’s a little about him:
Harry Clarke (1889 to 1931) was undoubtedly Ireland’s greatest stained glass artist. Internationally the name of Harry Clarke is synonymous with quality craftsmanship and imaginative genius in his stained glass work. His use of deep rich colours, his delicate depiction of beautiful elongated figures with their finely carved features and deep expressive eyes, is indeed magical to behold. During his short life Harry created over 160 stained glass windows for religious and commercial commissions throughout Ireland and England, and as far a field as the USA and Australia. Also an illustrator of books for Harrap and Co. in London, Harry illustrated books that show his undoubted genius in the area of graphic art.
Here are images of his work:
Vinyl Cover Project
Artist chosen: Lana Del Rey
Song: Gods And Monsters

In the land of gods and monsters,
I was an angel.
Living in the garden of evil,
Screwed up, scared, doing anything that I needed.
Shining like a fiery beacon,
You got that medicine I need
Fame, liquor, love, give it to me slowly.
Put your hands on my waist, do it softly.
Me and God we don’t get along, so now I sing.

No one’s gonna take my soul away,
Living like Jim Morrison.
Headed towards a fucked up holiday.
Motel, sprees, sprees, and I’m singing,
Fuck yeah give it to me, this is heaven, what I truly want
It’s innocence lost.
Innocence lost.

In the land of gods and monsters,
I was an angel, lookin’ to get fucked hard.
Like a groupie incognito posing as a real singer,
Life imitates art
You got that medicine I need
Dope, shoot it up straight to the heart please
I don’t really wanna know what’s good for me
God’s dead, I said ‘baby that’s alright with me’.

No one’s gonna take my soul away,
Living like Jim Morrison.
Headed towards a fucked up holiday.
Motel, sprees, sprees, and I’m singing,
Fuck yeah give it to me, this is heaven, what I truly want
It’s innocence lost.
Innocence lost.

When you talk it’s like a movie and you’re making me crazy,
‘Cause life imitates art.
If I get a little prettier, can I be your baby?
You tell me life isn’t that hard.

No one’s gonna take my soul away,
I’m living like Jim Morrison.
Headed towards a fucked up holiday.
Motel, sprees, sprees, and I’m singing,
Fuck yeah, give it to me, this is heaven, what I truly want.
It’s innocence lost.
Innocence lost.


Gods and Monsters are the people in the world of Hollywood. The Gods are the celebrities that are worshiped just because they are famous and everyone thinks they’re so amazing. The Monsters are the addictions, sins and all of the trouble that comes along with being in that world – “The garden of evil”

She was an angel because she was innocent when she was first brought into that world. She was already addicted to alcohol, but wanted fame and love.

Eventually she got into the world of the monsters and if she was addicted to things, her life with the Gods/Celebs would be over, but she still sings. She kept telling herself if God is dead, no one can take her soul away. When you’re a celebrity, it takes your soul away in a sense because you have to grow up fast and your whole world changes and eventually you get into things that take the innocence away.

Lana is stuck in a world trying to find herself and where she fits in. She stoops as low to pretend to be someone she isn’t just to be apart of something- to make a name for herself. Her self worth isn’t very high as she pleads like a child for some form of acceptance or sense of direction. She wants to modify or mold herself into someone is accepted in society.

This song is how she feels the loss of innocence after joining the music industry. She feels the pressure and sees her future like Jim Morrison’s

Taken from

 Short history on Harry Clarke

Taken from:

In 1886, Harry Clarke’s father Joshua moved to Dublin, at the age of 18, from Leeds.   He had married a Sligo woman Bridget MacGonigle, and set up his own stained glass and Church decorating business, and manufacturer of objects of Art, at J. Clarke & Sons, No. 33 North Frederick St., Dublin.

Early Days

Joshua and Bridget had four children and Henry Patrick Clarke (Harry) was born of 17th March 1889.   Harry attends Marlborough Street Model School and the Jesuit Belvedere College, Dublin.  His mother died in 1903 and Harry left school and went to work in 1904 with Architect Thomas McNamara, who encouraged him to go into stained-glass design.


Harry returned to his father’s business and began a five-year apprenticeship in 1905.  He also attended night classed at the Metropolitan School of Art, Kildare Street, in stained-glass under A. E. Child.  This gave him an intimate understanding of the nature of glass, and he soon learned to employ sophisticated techniques to create decorative effects.

Harry went to the South Kensington School of Design for two months in 1906 returning to Dublin afterwards, and followed on with another visit to London in 1907.

Ill Health

Ill health began to raise its ugly head, and he was ill for six months in 1908.   As a result of this he visited the Aran Islands the following year with his friend Austin Mulloy, and returned each summer for the next six years.   Apart from the benefits to his health, he was inspired by the wild and extraordinary nature of the Islands and its inspiration is found in many of his works


He began to get commissions, and exhibited at the Arts and Crafts Society of Ireland and annual Art Industries Exhibition at the Royal Dublin Society in 1910.  The following year 1911, Harry won the Gold Medal for stained-glass at the Board of Education national competition in South Kensington, London, and had a further two wins in 1912 and 1913.

London and Europe

He won a travelling Scholarship in 1913 having left Art School and moved to London.   In 1914, Harry travelled to Paris and Chartres and studied medieval stained-glass.    He was especially inspired by the 12th-century glass in the French cathedral of Chartres and S. Chapelle in Paris.   Harry became especially skilful in exploiting the qualities of the new slab glass, which E.S. Prior had invented in 1889.  The irregularities in the thickness of this coloured glass mimicked that used in medieval stained glass.   He also enhanced the qualities of this richly coloured glass by acid-etching, and the application of stains and fine delicate painting.

Book Illustrator

Harry was also a very successful book illustrator and in 1913 he had travelled to London to secure a publisher for his book illustrations and secured his first commission from Harrap & Co.  Harrap realised his genius and hired him on the spot, to provide illustrations for an edition of Andersen’s FairyTales in both a trade and deluxe edition – almost unheard of for an untested, unknown and very young illustrator.   It was published in 1916.   However,during the Easter Rising the blocks for these books were burnt.  He illustrated six books in total as well as a number of smaller volumes.   However, illustrations may have paid the early bills, but stained glass was his career.

Harry Clarke Studios

Harry’s father, Joshua, died on September 13th 1921.   He then moved into the more spacious Studios at No 6 and 7 North Frederick Street opposite No 33, the original residence, and managed the stained glass business.   His brother Walter, managed the decorating side of the business however he died suddenly in July 1930, and this ended the church and general decorating part of the business.

With his own studios in 1930 Harry continued to obtain commissions and the name of Harry Clarke soon became synonymous with original stained glass work of the highest quality and craftsmanship.   According to W. B. Yeats, “now the acknowledged best glass is made by Harry Clarke“.


Bowe, Gordon, N, The Life and Work of Harry Clarke, Irish Academic Press, 1994.

Harry Clarke Papers, MS39202, National Library of Ireland, Dublin

Staunton, Averil, Ballinrobe – Aspects of a Visual History, Ballinrobe Archaeological & Historical Society, May 2013

Vinyl Cover Template:

12″ Vinyl size:


Final outcome:

Done with pen, ink and pencils

Portrait of Lana, half angelic half Medusa with ‘Day of the Dead’ makeup. (as her makeup in the music video)

Wings to define her angelicness.

Medusa, snakes to symbolise  her dark side. (Monster side)

Red color drawn lettering, to make it stand out.

Her name in gold to mimic her past album covers.

Wings and snakes to stick out from the square 12″x12″ to stand out from the stack of vinyls


Images for inspiration:

Greek God, goddesses and monsters


Circus theme idea as the song was used in American Horror Freak Show:

Show her as the most beautiful surrounded by circus freaks.

The Freaks: The Strong man, The bearded lady, conjoined twins, Lana as a tattooed girl


Vintage circus posters:

Image result for vintage circus posters

Text used for circus poster:

Using pencils for toning, pen and inks to define & outline. Text to be in bold, impact type, red and gold colour to stand out.


Heads and skins of snake study:


Study of angel wings:

Eye Magazine Spread

We are to design a magazine spread and cover for the Eye Magazine. Details were outlined in the brief and below is the research done online:

Taken from:

 Biography of Stefan Sagmeister

Sagmeister studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He later received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York. He began his design career at the age of 15 at “Alphorn”, an Austrian Youth magazine, which is named after the traditional Alpine musical instrument.

In 1991, he moved to Hong Kong to work with Leo Burnett’s Hong Kong Design Group. In 1993, he returned to New York to work with Tibor Kalman’s M&Co design company. His tenure there was short lived, as Kalman soon decided to retire from the design business to edit Colors magazine for the Benetton Group in Treviso, Italy.[1]

Stefan Sagmeister proceeded to form the New York based Sagmeister Inc. in 1993 and has since designed branding, graphics, and packaging for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, the Guggenheim Museum and Time Warner. Sagmeister Inc. has employed designers including Martin Woodtli, and Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, who later formed Karlssonwilker.

Stefan Sagmeister is a long-standing artistic collaborator with musicians David Byrne and Lou Reed. He is the author of the design monograph “Made You Look” which was published by Booth-Clibborn editions.

Solo shows on Sagmeister, Inc.’s work have been mounted in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Japan, Osaka, Prague, Cologne, and Seoul. He teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Arts in New York and has been appointed as the Frank Stanton Chair at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York.

His motto is “Design that needed guts from the creator and still carries the ghost of these guts in the final execution.”

Sagmeister goes on a year-long sabbatical around every seven years, where he does not take work from clients.

He has spent many years designing for the music industry. Several years ago he decided to dedicate 25% of his work to the art world, things like books and publications for galleries, another 25% to the scientific community, 25% to social causes, and the remaining quarter has stayed dedicated to the music industry.

Samples of his work:

Link to his webpage:

Link to Eye magazine:

Below is the content for the project:

Inspirational and intriguing designer Stefan Sagmeister is recognized for his unorthodox, provocative designs that tweak the status quo and question the designer’s role in society.

A cunning trickster turns convention upside down, stretches the bounds of propriety, stomps on mores and taboos and alters popular perceptions. Stefan Sagmeister has long fit this “bad boy” bill. Known for upsetting norms, he tricks the senses through design, typography, environmental art, conceptual exhibitions and, lately, video.

Long ago, Sagmeister, whose motto was “Style=Fart,” replaced style with attitude. His designs are rooted in disorienting images and self-defining aphorisms. With apparent ease, Sagmeister morphs—as tricksters are wont to do—taking on various skins, from graphic designer to conceptual typographer to performance artist. When the mood strikes, he returns to being a designer, and a completely new cycle of transformation commences.

For an AIGA lecture in 1999, he famously had the lettering for the event poster carved into his naked body; for his 2003 “Sagmeister on a binge” exhibition poster, he ate 100 different junk foods, gaining more than 25 pounds, and took “before” and “after” photographs of his semi-nude body. For a short typographic film, he dangled precariously out of an upper-story window of the Empire State Building as police scrambled with nets below. The list goes on.

Born in Bregenz, Austria in 1962, Sagmeister began his unorthodox career at age 15 writing for Alphorn, a small, left-wing magazine, but quickly realized that working on the layout was more enjoyable than writing articles. He earned an M.F.A. at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna in 1985, and received a Fulbright scholarship to study at Pratt Institute in New York. Even as a young designer he was peripatetic: he took a position with the Leo Burnett Hong Kong Design Group in 1991. Surprisingly, the job did not trigger his atavistic rebellion, but it did give him a taste for other worlds.

During his student days in New York, Sagmeister had courted another design bad boy, Tibor Kalman, of M&Co. “Tibor Kalman was the single most influential person in my design-y life and my one and only design hero,” Sagmeister told me. “Twenty-five years ago, as a student in NYC, I called him every week for half a year, and I got to know the M&Co receptionist really well. When he finally agreed to see me, it turned out I had a sketch in my portfolio rather similar in concept and execution to an idea M&Co was just working on. He rushed to show me the prototype out of fear I’d later say he stole it out of my portfolio. I was so flattered.”

When M&Co eventually hired Sagmeister five years later, in 1993, Sagmeister discovered that Kalman had an uncanny knack for giving wisdom-laced advice, which had a deep influence on him as he began cultivating his own career. Perhaps most importantly, Kalman encouraged Sagmeister’s own creative restlessness: “Tibor was always happy and ready to jump from one field to another: corporate design, products, city planning, music videos, documentary movies, children’s books and magazine editing were all treated under the mantra, ‘You should do everything twice. The first time you don’t know what you’re doing. The second time you do. The third time it’s boring,’” Sagmeister said.

During the early 2000s Sagmeister was totally invested in this genre and medium. In an interview, I asked him if he wanted to continue with this specialty or enter general practice. He responded in the affirmative without hesitation. I asked if he saw graphic design as a viable practice for future generations: “I personally believe that print is going to be around for a very, very long time,” he replied. “If I’m wrong, future designers will have to be screen-based….I’d rather move to Sri Lanka and build a house than become a website designer.”

In 2008, taking on other types of corporate and media work would have been axiomatic and fruitful, but instead, his next move was an unprecedented act of personal chutzpah: he announced a one-year sabbatical from all commercial work, and retreated to Bali.

Was Sagmeister nuts? Would clients who relied on him remain loyal? Was this a trickster’s trick? True to form, he took the leap not knowing what the consequences might be. In return, he experienced one of those precious “aha” moments. It was during this sabbatical when, after deciding against learning how to direct film out of fear “I might devote a lot of time learning this new language and wind up having nothing to say,” he recalled, “it occurred to me I should try to stick with the language I do know how to talk, design, and see if I’d have something to say in it.”

Ultimately Sagmeister is not a follower, but a leader, if only to satisfy his own restlessness. “If it’s too new I get anxious,” Sagmeister once said, “if it’s too familiar I get bored.”

Author: Steven Heller

Images to include:

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Samples of existing magazine spread found online and from books in the library:

This page focuses on the text, using colour, bold fonts and one colour background.


More layout samples fromThe Layout Book by Ambrose/Harris.


Image placement ideas.


An idea for text layout.


Text layout, vertical, to look like buildings, a skyline.


Image as the background and text in white on top of image.


Full portrait on one page and text in different colour on one column.


Play with text, different colours and blocks for background.


Text to follow the curve of  an image.


Portrait  in the center  and text on one side.


Two block colours  and text in white. Headings and quotes in different colours


Quote as heading and text on the image.

Quotes and title ideas:


“bad boy”


“If it’s too new I get anxious,” Sagmeister once said, “if it’s too familiar I get bored.”

‘You should do everything twice. The first time you don’t know what you’re doing. The second time you do. The third time it’s boring,”

“I personally believe that print is going to be around for a very, very long time”. “If I’m wrong, future designers will have to be screen-based….I’d rather move to Sri Lanka and build a house than become a website designer.”

The logo:


Based on existing Eye magazines, to use News Gothic fonts.

Sample of Eye Magazine covers:


Cover design using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop:

Portrait of Sagmeister done Linocut style:




Another option: