November 25, 2015

Michael Bierut

The Bierut retrospective at the School of Visual Arts Gallery in New York is a testament to the formidable influence American graphic designer Michael Bierut has had on our modern environment.

Michael Bierut, born in 1957 in Cleveland, Ohio, is a graphic designer, design critic and educator. He studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning. In recent years Bierut is probably best known for his work on the 2015 Hilary Clinton campaign logo, but this award-winning graphic designer has been the force behind an arsenal of great design for global brands such as the Verizon logo redesign, Guitar Hero and the new brand identity for Saks Fifth Avenue.

From a very young age, Bierut knew he wanted to be a graphic designer. In his book he describes the moment the knowledge struck him, “I must have been no more than five or six years old. I was in the car with my father on a Saturday on my way to get a haircut. We were stopped at a light, and my dad pointed at a forklift truck parked in a nearby lot. “Isn’t that neat?” he asked. What, I said. “Look at the way they wrote ‘Clark.’” Clark was the logo on the side of the truck. I didn’t get it. “See how the letter L is lifting up the letter A?” explained my father. “It’s doing what the truck does.” It was as if an amazing secret had been revealed, right there in plain sight. I was dumbfounded and thrilled. How long had this been going on? Were these small miracles hidden all over the place? And who was responsible for creating them?”


Bierut started his design career working for Vignelli Associates in New York. Bierut states on his blog, I learned how to design at design school. But I learned how to be a designer from Massimo Vignelli”. Bierut credits many of his skills to the time he spent at Vignelli Associates, working with the illustrious Massimo Vignelli.

Bierut joined the famed design firm Pentagram in 1990 as a partner in the New York office. Amongst numerous other projects, Bierut has created the identity and branding for Benetton and the Walt Disney Company.

The power of Bierut’s influence can be most strongly felt on the streets of New York City. From the logos for the Grand Central station, the fashion district, several museums, restaurants, the New York Jets, the New York Times office building to the tongue in cheek signs for the “pick up your dog’s poop” campaign for the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Bierut has done more to define the New York City design landscape than any other designer, including his former employer and mentor, Massimo Vignelli.