Stefan Sagmeister is a renowned Austrian-born US based contemporary graphic designer and typographer. He is the co-founder of the famous design firm, Sagmeister & Walsh, which he established in partnership with Jessica Walsh. His intriguing and provocative designs redefined the status of graphic designers. Some of his notable designs are showcased on the album covers of The Rolling Stones, Pat Metheny, David Byrne and OK Go.
On August 6, 1962, Stefan Sagmeister was born in Bregenz, Austria. After graduation from high-school, he enrolled himself in an engineering college. However, he later changed his mind and opted for graphic designing course. Since an early age, Sagmeister had a passion for designing, thus it is as unsurprising that he began his designing career at the age of 15. He worked for an Austrian left-wing youth magazine, Alphorn. While he was covering Alphorn’s Anarchy issue, he had an ingenious idea to exercise the D-I-Y graphic for the first time. He persuaded his fellow students to lie down on the playground forming the letter A, and took a picture from school roof for the poster of the magazine. At the age of 19, he applied for the University of Applied Arts Vienna to study graphic designing. Although, at first he was refused the admission on the basis of his amateur drawing, his application was accepted on second attempt. In 1987, owing to his remarkable performance, he earned a Fulbright scholarship for the New York based Pratt Institute.
For mandatory military services, Sagmeister returned to Austria after three year of studies in United States. He chose to do community service for refugee center instead and afterwards remained in Austria for a while. There he continued to pursue graphic designing and then moved to Hong Kong in 1991. He was landed a job as a typographer in an advertising agency. In 1992, the agency was asked to design a poster for the 4As advertising awards ceremony. Sagmeister had a strange sense of humor and never took issues of propriety into consideration. So when he presented an inappropriate and unethical poster for the event he was lambasted by the audience. A few months later, he decided to move back to New York City.
In New York, Sagmeister briefly worked at M&Co studio, which sponsored his green card application. As the studio was closed and moved to Rome, he set out to establish his own. Having keen interest in music, he decided to work on music graphics but only endorsing the music he prefers. In 1993, he founded the Sagmeister Inc. At first none of the record labels approached him for the album cover designs. So when his friend was about to launch his album he seized the opportunity to design the CD cover for Zinker’s Mountains of Madness. Using the optical illusion, he made the CD cover more tantalizing for the consumers, and his incredible zeal for innovative designs earned him four Grammy nominations for his cover. Inspired by his work, Lou Reed requested him to design cover for his album, Set the Twilight Reeling, in 1996. It was followed by the cover he designed for David Byrne’s album Feelings featuring the GI Joe-style doll.
Since then, Stefan Sagmeister has promoted brands, music and entertained diverse range of clients such as the Guggenheim Museum, HBO, AIGA and Time Warner through his captivating designs. For his stellar achievements he was awarded the Grammy Award thrice and the National Design Award.
The Rolling Stones – Bridges of Babylon
Lou Reed – “Set the Twilight Reeling”
Story Logo – for a store in NYC
Levi’s Billboard, SoHo, NYC