a brief chat with sagmeister
Last week I had the chance to attend a conference in Salt Lake City filled with creative minds, deep thinkers, tech-savvy bloggers, DIY designers and some seriously inspiring speakers. The conference, better known as Altitude Summit, had been on my radar for awhile and seeing the production in person, I was not disappointed. I’ll spare you a recap of all the sessions I attended, the beautifully crafted parties and the perfectly styled outfits and cut to the second of three keynote speeches held. This keynote was given by the famous (or infamous, depending on who you ask…) graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister. I was first introduced to his work in college when this image of his carved body was shown in a lecture hall. Definitely memorable and rarely politically correct, Stefans’s work has been recognized around the world for decades. But this talk wasn’t about his work. It was about happiness.
As a man that takes a sabbatical every seven years, I was a bit skeptical of Sagmeister’s approach to such a topic. Would I be able to relate? Would I be able to keep my eyes from rolling? The answers to both questions were a resounding ‘Yes!’. Sagmeister spoke of three types of happiness:
- Short-term happiness = joy and pleasure
- Mid-tern happiness = satisfaction and well-being
- Long-term happiness = fulfillment
And how they directly relate to your work in life. For example, a job is done for money, a career is done for advancement and promotion and your calling in life is intrinsically fulfilling. It seems simple enough, but it’s a concept which is difficult to execute from day-to-day. Sagmeister also outlined his rules for pursuing happiness in design. I was looking forward to hearing these, but as I’m sure the other graphic designers out there will see, they are often easier said than done:
- Think of ideas openly and freely. Think without the pressure of deadlines.
- Travel to new places.
- Use a variety of tools and technologies.
- Work on projects that matter to you.
- Have things come back from a printer well done.
- Get feedback from people who see your work.
- Design a product that looks partly brand new and partly familiar.
- Work without interruption on a single project.
As in his TED talk, Sagmeister was an engaging and thought provoking speaker. He shared a preview of his latest project The Happy Film and I look forward to catching the film in its entirety later this year. I encourage you to do the same. We can even talk about it here on the blog!
Movie viewing, eye rolling and interesting art projects aside, my favorite quote from his keynote came at the end when he said, “To look at the world and see what’s wrong with it is lazy. To look and see how it can be changed is much more difficult and is much more rewarding.” Definitely a good though to leave with.
If that quote wasn’t enough I also left with a kiss on the cheek. A souvenir I was not anticipating.
By: Elissa Braun