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Earlier this week, Michael Bierut, Sonia Williams, and I spent an hour on the cellphone collectively. Michael is an influential graphic designer based mostly in New York, Sonia is a high school student in Paintsville, Kentucky, and I’m a designer at Automattic, dwelling outdoors of Boston.

Sonia got here ready with a fantastic set of questions. She prompted Michael to inform us about his profession, and to take us by a few of his favourite tasks. We talked about designing this web site. Michael described how he got here to make use of a photograph of the earth to signify dwelling: he’d aimed to indicate essentially the most common illustration of a house. All of us dwell drastically totally different lives, in drastically totally different homes, however this gigantic, fragile planet is our shared dwelling.

On the finish of the decision, Sonia went to her subsequent class. I started working on WordPress.com and Longreads, and Michael turned his consideration to his work at Pentagram.

Michael, Sonia, and I are all totally different ages, at totally different levels of our careers, and in numerous elements of the nation, however we took day out of our days to share tales and work collectively. Our conversations felt pure, and we realized lots from one another. I used to be struck by simply how highly effective — but seemingly regular — an expertise this venture was.


Once I was Sonia’s age, I attended a implausible highschool: The Buffalo Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. I used to be an artwork main there, which meant that I had two intervals of artwork on daily basis, along with my regular coursework. I took in depth lessons in portray, sculpture, pottery,  pictures, artwork historical past, and extra. I beloved artwork, and I knew I needed to contain it in my future someway, however I didn’t know any specifics past that.

In some unspecified time in the future throughout my senior 12 months, considered one of our academics organized to have a graphic designer go to her classroom. He confirmed us an advert marketing campaign for a neighborhood artwork museum that he’d labored on. It concerned billboards, printed materials, and a web site. I keep in mind being actually fascinated with his presentation, and chatting with him for a couple of minutes afterwards. Till that time, I don’t assume I had a fantastic thought of what precisely graphic design was. I knew a bit about designing particular person issues — an advert in {a magazine}, a single web site, and many others. — however that was my first actual publicity to the thought of (and challenges round) designing an identification that spans throughout many single purposes.

Just a few months later, I took my artwork portfolio to a school portfolio evaluate day in Syracuse, New York. I utilized to various faculties, and ended up in Brooklyn, finding out graphic design at Pratt Institute. In my design historical past class, we realized about Michael Bierut.

I’ve been working within the discipline for over a decade now. I’ve labored on branding, advert campaigns, web sites, t-shirts, and extra. I presently do all this whereas working from dwelling. Highschool me didn’t know this kind of job existed till I met that graphic designer.


When John Maeda invited me to participate on this venture, I assumed again to the time I met that designer in highschool, and acknowledged the influence it had on my future. Sharing what we do with the following era is a key accountability of all of us. Simply as I’ve realized from Michael Bierut’s work all through my profession, it’s my hope that Sonia and her classmates come away from this expertise with a greater understanding of artwork and design themselves.

Due to John Maeda for organizing, due to Michael Bierut to your paintings, perception, and perspective, and thanks to Sonia for all of the preparation and energy you set into this venture.



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