Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

The Opposite of Ugly

On this episode, Jessica and Michael discuss what graphic designers define and wrestle with ugliness. Unpacking the subtitle of his new book, Michael explains that
If you use graphic design to sell something, you can tell whether it worked because, did someone buy it? If you use it to explain things, that's easy to tell whether it worked, because now does the person understand it? But then "make things look better": I actually think that's a really important thing that designers do, and yet that's the one indeed that has no test. Because what looks good to you may not look good to me...

Also mentioned:
  • Milton Glaser, Graphic Design
  • New York Times obituary for John Berg
  • Chicago album cover gallery
  • Album covers by Roger Dean, Neon Park, Mati Klarwein, Pedro Bell
  • Kathryn Hughes reviews Gretchen E. Henderson’s Ugliness: A Cultural History
  • Thomas Watson, Good Design Is Good Business

    Thanks to Blurb for sponsoring this episode. 

    Subscribe to The Observatory on iTunes or your favorite podcast app, or follow Design Observer on Soundcloud.

  • Posted in: The Observatory

    Comments [3]

    Interesting definition of graphic design is described here. I used to read the article connected with web design, it was called “Is Web Design a Dying Trade or Can it Still be a Viable Career Option?
    Eric Roland

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is ugliness. I think that we need to learn how to overlook our perceptions of ugliness and put our prejudice away in storage under lock and key. Then we might really be able to look for the beauty that resides in everything!
    Thomas Maloney

    You put certainly revolutionary ideas in the post. ! I really loved the way you have presented your post and I want to learn new things more. Thanks much.
    Taposy Rabeya

    Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

    Jobs | June 24