Excerpt from PRINT Magazine’s Spring issue
FAME HAS COME A LONG WAY since David Bowie first crooned about it. Fame is no longer a result of talent and hard work; it is a singular goal in and of itself. While the antics of 2000s Paris Hilton shocked those tracking celebrity culture, the Kardashian crew has cemented this behavior as de rigueur and the phrase “famous for being famous” is now part of our daily vernacular.
The most alarming condition in the current state of fame is the ever-rising bar for attention-grabbing in order to draw an audience. This both results from and perpetuates the growing tendency to mistake attention for appreciation. One might argue that designers can’t be excluded from this dilemma, and frankly, they can’t.
Great designers have always been deft operators within the media currencies of their culture. Saul Bass’ original 1969 pitch for the Bell logo was a masterwork of stuntsmanship in the Golden Age of McLuhanism, enlisting every single tool of Marshall McLuhan’s media model in the service of capturing and capitalizing on attention.
Lucky for us, Bass’ work for Bell was brilliant. What I believe separates the practitioners of communication and graphic design from so many other fame-seekers is the belief that this type of fame is earned rather than assumed. In this issue, our first annual “Hollywood” issue, we present to you over 50 practitioners of communication and graphic design who have done just that. They are famous not because they are famous but because of what they’ve achieved and accomplished. They have created and innovated new ways of practicing and performing and writing about design. In doing so, they have helped redesign how we think about design in our culture and the world.
— Debbie Millman