In my Graphic Design 1 class we were encouraged to visit the Masters Series exhibition at SVA honoring the iconic graphic designer Michael Bierut. Although the name was vaguely familiar to me, I was not aware of just how prevalent and influential his designs were. I greatly enjoyed the exhibit and was particularly overwhelmed by the wall featuring dozens of familiar logos. Logos that, as a New Yorker, I see on a daily basis. Studying graphic design has enabled me to train my eye to notice and understand these daily designs on a deeper level – to see them as visual communications and design solutions rather than just visual stimuli. Bierut’s comprehensive retrospective included personal sketches which provided insight into the extensive and often non-linear design process behind some of his most acclaimed designs. What I found so interesting was that some of his simplest and cleanest designs were a product of extensive sketches and various renditions. The skill and genius of his logos (such as the bold, blocky letters of the Museum of Arts and Design “MAD”) lie in the fact that these seemingly obvious and minimalist designs are in fact the result of endless variations, critiques, edits, sketches, and even failures. His ability to create logos that stand the test of time and blend so seamlessly into society’s visual vernacular is extradorinaiy and the scope of this exhibition captures that perfectly.
I strongly suggest visiting it in your free time!