Michael Bierut: 5 Secrets from 86 Notebooks

(Note: Video originally posted here)

Bierut’s stack of 86 notebooks is both impressive and inspiring (and another great defense as to why I refuse to throw design-related items away). The pile of basic composition notebooks contains invaluable notes and ideas that lead to some pretty monumental design work – like the environmental graphics for the New York Times Building.

He likens his craft to medicine — just as a doctor cannot practice medicine without patients, as a designer, he cannot practice without clients. “The ‘sicker,’ the better,” Bierut says, with a laugh.

In this 19 minute video, Bierut outlines five lessons he has learned over the years and illustrates them through five completed projects. The one I identified with most is “Listen first, then design” — a principle I try to live by with each new project. Although clients come to designers with problems to solve, as Bierut says in lesson #3 — “The problem contains the solution.” Clients hold the answers to their own problems, we just need to help them find it.

“Remember who you’re doing it for and why you’re doing it and you can’t go wrong.”

— Michael Bierut

What do you think of Bierut’s “secrets”?

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