NR: What is the first thing you do in the morning after you wash your face?
SA: You’re supposed to wash your face? I thought that the dirt made me look more tan. Actually, I have a dull routine of Kashi cereal, blueberries, and soy milk. I know it’s very LA, but what can I do?
NR: When you were little, what did you want to be when you “grew up”?
SA: I found a book of questions that I filled in when I was 4. Some of the answers were odd, to say the least, “How many steps is it from your house to your car? I answered, “Foot steps”. The question, “What do you want to be?” was answered with “Train man”. In retrospect, I was obsessed by the typography on the side of the trains that ran through my hometown before heading over the western Sierras. My retirement dream is the same; I intend to work on the Disneyland Railroad as a conductor.
NR: Do you have any daily rituals? If so, what they are?
SA: Beside animal sacrifices to the Gods, I don’t think so. Although we obsessively take lunch exactly at noon. And I religiously see my trainer every day at 6:00 pm.
NR: What is most important to you?
SA: Corny, but true, my family. Who wouldn’t say that? I could say “my hair,” but it would only be the second most important thing to me.
NR: What is your favorite food?
SA: I could live on fried chicken every day, except I would become very fat. So I limit it to once a month.
NR: Where do you get your greatest inspiration?
SA: All over the place. Sometimes it’s a fantastic piece of packaging in my grandmother’s cupboard (which has food from 1940). Yesterday, I saw a beautiful color scheme used on the clothes in the movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis”. And I just finished reading a book on challenges American presidents have faced since George Washington (yes, I’m related).
NR: What is your biggest pleasure?
SA: Hello, I’m a man. What do you think? But the one that can be used in polite company is working with the incredible designers who are part of AIGA and the community. They have enormous energy and are unbelievably committed to the betterment of the profession.
NR: What kind of people do you avoid / prefer?
SA: I’m not so keen on people who are snooty. We’re all human beings, no need to have a superior attitude. I love to spend time with people who have great stories, or are willing to talk about their lives. I learn so much from meeting someone in a town where I’m speaking and hearing how they work, what their challenges are, and what their hopes are.
NR: In your career, what project would you say is your favorite?
SA: The correct answer is “the next one.” But I specifically enjoyed working on all of my projects for Mohawk Paper. The group there, headed by Laura Shore is remarkable, with a commitment to the environment, good design, and the community.
NR: What are the greatest misconceptions about contemporary design?
SA: That it needs to be serious and heavy handed to be “good”. I want my mother to understand and enjoy our work, not just 12 people in an avant garde art group.
NR: Who is your favorite hero (this doesn’t necessarily need to be a graphic designer)?
SA: My grandfather
NR: Any advice you can share for successful living?
SA: Don’t falter, keep moving, never give up.