Design Heroes

Design heroes are people who inspire our creative spirit. Their works have provided examples for our own achievement, lighting a path for us to find our voice and style. Our design heroes may not be or have been in the same field as us at Topic, but the message in what they accomplished has certainly resonated with us. Whether architects of aesthetics, language or sound, the heroes we have selected made something that spoke to us individually, something that illuminated our minds. We asked each member of Team Topic, “Who is your design hero?”

Cheryl Besl

Q: Who is your design hero?
It's hard to pin it down to just one. Several years ago, through client work, I found The Daily Heller, a daily email curated by Steven Heller. I try to read or skim the email everyday to get a daily dose of design and art. The Daily Heller is published by the editors of Print magazine. Heller is the co-founder and the co-chair of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts. He writes the Visuals column for the New York Times Book Review and the Graphic Content blog for T-Style.

Q: Why do you identify with this person or what about them piques your interest?
I subscribed to the email because it features both current and historical designers, designs and trends. The trends can be anything from political to art-based which adds another interesting aspect. You never know what you're going to get.

Q: What work of theirs has truly struck a chord with you and why?
I just like the variety of artists and designers that Heller features through a theme every day. Each email is a mini-lesson. WIRED recently described the emails as “your CliffsNotes to the history of graphic design” and is delivered to your inbox each day.

Q: What would you tell this person if you met him/her?
More graphics, fewer words.

Deanna Hengge

Q: Who is your design hero?
Norman Rockwell

Q: Why do you identify with this person or what about them piques your interest?
He was able to see the fun and quirks in everyday life, seeing something special in things people easily looked past.

Q: What work of theirs has truly struck a chord with you and why?
Rosie the Riveter

Q: What would you tell this person if you met him/her?
Hey Norman, you were able to empower various types of people with his work with a sense of fun.

Emily

Q: Who is your design hero?
Timothy Goodman

Q: Why do you identify with this person or what about them piques your interest?
I like that his designs are simple, but send a complex message. He takes an ordinary thing like a sharpie, and makes amazing work that's very relatable.

Q: What work of theirs has truly struck a chord with you and why?
I first found out about Timothy through a blog called 40 Days of Dating, that he wrote with Jessica Walsh. It was a fun concept about two friends dating and discovering why they weren't right for each other. He did illustrations throughout the 40 days and they just resonated me in a very simple, yet powerful way.

Q: What would you tell this person if you met him/her?
"I love your work, and you're cute."

Sean O’Brien

Q: Who is your design hero?
Andy Warhol

Q: Why do you identify with this person or what about them piques your interest?
Visiting his museum in his hometown of Pittsburgh was quite a unique experience. It was amazing to see that the child of immigrants in an industrial city had such a bright imagination. His understanding of celebrity and branding has been imitated but never recreated.

Q: What work of theirs has truly struck a chord with you and why?
His quote regarding Coca-Cola and its place as a democratic consumer product struck me the most. His point was that the rich and the poor drink the same Coke, and this is an experience that can only be found in democratic societies, like America. It seems that many artists vilify corporate interests and brands, but he saw the commercially produced soft drink in a wholly different light, as representative of the American experience or, at the very least, the American ideal.

Q: What would you tell this person if you met him/her?
What was Basquiat like in real life?

Warren Harrison

Q: Who is your design hero?
Laurie Anderson

Q: Why do you identify with this person or what about them piques your interest?
She blurs the line between pop culture, performance art and canine entertainment.

Q: What work of theirs has truly struck a chord with you and why?
The first piece I heard, "O Superman." It's meditative, but also its method of appearance to the World. An odd performance artist suddenly had a 7-album record deal. WTF of the best kind.

Q: What would you tell this person if you met him/her?
You inspired me to project onto black cloth. Thanks for that.

Kristen Pericleous

Q: Who is your design hero?
Walt Disney. He's more of my overall artistic hero.

Q: Why do you identify with this person or what about them piques your interest?
He found a way to create a sense of wonder and magic in everything that he did. And, he left a legacy behind that continues to do the exact same thing. Small things like movies, illustrations, cartoons, or characters have the power to create a significant moment in an ordinary day. That is a sentiment that I strive to recreate with my design work. I want to create something that makes someone stop and think or brightens their day, if only for a few moments.

Q: What work of theirs has truly struck a chord with you and why?
Walt Disney World. I love that he created a place of magic for children and adults alike. Yes, I will admit to being a huge Disney fan, but I believe every person that walks through those gates feels some sense of being transported away from their everyday world. A sense of wonder and awe is vital to staying creative and always learning and striving to make something new.

Q: What would you tell this person if you met him/her?
"If you can dream it, you can do it" is basically the mantra of my life. Thank you for inspiring me to create magic in this world.

#teamtopic