Michael Bierut is up next in our continuous analysis of famous graphic designers. Born in Cleveland, 1957 he was naturally inclined to creative disciplines like fine art and music. He decided that graphic design was definitely his path after reading a Milton Glaser book and studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati. Michael Bierut prefers to think of himself not as a creative but as a visual doctor tending to all the sick (in other words garbage) design in the world. He’s got a lot of patients to treat if that’s the case.
Beirut attended the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design and graduated in 1980. I’m not convinced formal education is what makes famous graphic designers famous, but it’s worth noting anyway. Most of my college days were spent learning how to kern typography. A useful skill no doubt but you need more than that to be a winner in the world of design. I still think real world experience is the best way to learn in this profession.
His first job was at the New York offices of Vignelli Associates. Massimo Vignelli and his wife Lella were two influential Italian designers that set up their design studio that bore their name, Vignelli Associates, which became a known name in New York City. In 1980 Bierut landed his first job at Vignelli Associates and rose to become the vice president of design after 10 years of work for the group.
In 1990 he joined the Pentagram design group started by Alan Fletcher, a partnership which he still holds today. He and fellow Pentagram partner and designer, Paula Scher seem to have worked closely on number of projects.
United airlines was a bit of a sad subject. The elegant tulip logo which Pentagram produced was apparently scrapped by the CEO Jeff Smisek and replaced it with the current, humorously outdated variant.
2006 aiga medal
On Wednesday, 25 October, Michael Bierut was awarded the AIGA Medal, the graphic design industry’s highest honor.
Famous graphic designers have some famous quotes and in the documentary about Helvetica, Michael Bierut rants on about how great Helvetica was for design back in the 70′s. It must be one of my favorite clips on design. Period.