How does one stay inspired? Part of the answer can be found in Stefan Sagmeister’s professional philosophy: every seven years he takes one year off for personal and professional development. His creative output would suggest the strategy is a winning one. Touted as one of the most influential designers in the world, he is renowned for his album covers for music artists including The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed, and his designs for clients such as Adobe, HBO and the Guggenheim Museum. Stefan Sagmeister has also authored and designed the interactive book, Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far, in which he illustrates personal truths using large-scale designs.

How would you describe your job to a nine-year-old?

We design websites, posters, chairs, billboards and films.

What does being creative mean to you?

To come up with something somewhat new and useful. One of my most favorite spaces to be creative in is a newly occupied hotel room. I find it easy to work in a place far away from the studio, where thoughts about the implementation of an idea don’t come to mind immediately but I can dream a bit more freely.

What is your greatest creative achievement so far?

The one that gave me overall the most satisfaction is the series: Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far. Inspired by my grandfather who was educated in sign painting, I grew up with many of his pieces of wisdom around the house, traditional calligraphy carefully applied in gold leaf on painstakingly carved wooden panels. I was following his tradition with these typographic works. All of them are part of a list I found in my diary under the title: “Things I have learned in my life so far.”

What piece of work do you wish you’d done?

The Beginners, directed by (former) graphic designer Mike Mills.

What’s your passion?

Just saw a woman in the airport wearing a T-shirt saying: My passion is fashion. Interestingly, if her passion would truly be fashion, she would not be caught dead in a thing like this. My passion is observing this.

If all the world’s creativity and innovation could only be used for good, what would you hope for?

It is good that not all is used for good, as bad needs to be in there for balance and contrast.

What turns you off?

Having to do things over again because of bad organization.

What’s hanging above your desk/in your office?

A video camera producing a live image of our design studio to become part of our web interface.


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