Looking Back

And now, back to something about plain old graphic design. Down in the basement of AIGA National Design Center in New York is an old vault. The vault is filled with amazing treasures from the history of AIGA since the early 20th century. Most of these pieces were designed by some of the most prominent designers of the time, and celebrate the profession at a specific moment in history. It’s a good measure of “high design” of each era.

Every designer is told that work should be timeless. But that’s impossible. Design is not Darwinian; it doesn’t get better as the world evolves. We are products of our time and place on this planet. I don’t believe I’m doing better work than someone in 1970 just because it’s 40 years later. I don’t worry too much about “timeless” design, which is probably fairly obvious for those thinking I’m still in 1962. To me, these pieces are as incredible today as they were when they were produced. Actually, they’re probably considered better today, because someone down the street isn’t saying, “Ooh, I hate that guy. His work sucks, and I hear he yells at his employees. This poster ain’t that good.”