THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN MY LIFE SO FAR

Stefan Sagmeister (* Bregenz, Austria 1962) studied graphics design at the Universität für angewandte Kunst Wien. With a Fulbright-scholarship under his belt he continued to study at Pratt Institute New York. In 1981 he joined the advertisement agency Leo Burnett in Hong Kong. He founded his own company 1993 in New York. He has worked for Guggenheim Museum, Time Warner and stars like Lou Reed or the Rolling Stones. He even won a Grammy for his design of an aluminium box for a ‘Talking Heads’ album.
His ideas on how to promote himself by starting controversy (showing himself nude, scratching his own skin etc.) might be a bit over the top for some people, on the other hand he achieved international kudos for them, which is eventually what he wanted.
And then there is Stefan Sagmeister’s book „THINGS I HAVE LEARNED IN MY LIFE SO FAR“. It is a sort of excerpt from his diary, in which he keeps such a list. To call it merely a picture book would not quite get the gist of it. It actually is a beautiful designed pasteboard box, filled with 15 brochures. Each one dedicated to maxims, which are near and dear to Sagmeister. He describes in short, how he came to discover and cherish them and often how the projects were finally realized, while he lets the typography and most of the time the surrounding art doing the rest.  Some critics say he expanded and virtually went beyond the boundaries of typography. The idea to publish those maxims as typography art has been developed during a break, which Sagmeister allowed himself. The 10 meter tall angry black and white plastic monkeys, which one of is shown in our picks today, were created as the gimmick for the “Six Cities Design Festival” in Scotland. The full sentence “Everybody [always] thinks they are right.” could only be read if you had visited all the locations in six different cities or of course you could have read it in the papers, which eagerly picked this gimmick up. Coming back to Sagmeister’s extreme self-promotion ideas there is a short passage of his diary inside this book: The curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art was surprised that Sagmeister was not more arrogant. She figured so, because he uses his own face and body in his campaign. Apparently Sagmeister was not aware of this at that particular time, but he believes, that it is very tempting to use his own face and / or body in campaigns. He concludes:”A new idea for a portrait is never difficult to come by and has proven to work well before; the human face always seems to offer endless possibilities. At the same time this sounds like an excuse, considering I miraculously never had the same urge when it came to our music clients, where I often avoided artists’ portraits. It might be just simple vanity after all.”

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