Steven Heller is an eminent American graphic designer, art director, art critic and author. For over thirty years he held the position of senior art director at New York Times Book Review and U&lc magazine. He prolifically authored and co-authored books tracing the history of typography, illustration and other subjects related to graphic design.
Born on July 7, 1950, Steven Heller grew up in New York City, United States. Currently, he is the co-chair with Lita Talarico of the MFA Designer as Author program at the School of Visual Arts, New York, which he also helped co-found. In fact, he also delivered lectures there on the history of graphic design. Before that for fourteen years in the MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program at the School of Visual arts, he lectured on the history of illustration. SVA’s Modernism & Eclecticism: A History of American Graphic Design symposiums also availed his services as a director for ten years. Moreover, he has directed a package of visual books Push Pin Editions with Seymour Chwast. In collaboration with his wife he produced over twenty books and several publishing houses including Chronicle Books required his expertise on product designing.
Heller has contributed to graphic design through his input in print media, as well. He edited several design magazines, such as Eye, Baseline, Print and I.D. magazines. He wrote innumerable articles, columns and critical essays for these design and culture journals. More importantly, he has been working as an editor for the prestigious the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design. He published numerous inspiring and thought-provoking pieces on graphic design. AIGA VOICE: Online Journal of Design currently seeks his editorial skills to help build a critical vocabulary for their journal.
Being an author, critic and editor of over hundred books, Heller has had opportunity of working with a good number of publishing houses including Allworth Press, Phaidon Press, Abbeville Press, Northlight, Thames and Hudson and more. Besides, he has contributed to variety of magazines, such as Creation, Design Issues, Design Observer, Graphis, Oxymoron, The New York Times Book Review and Speak. Heller has managed to encapsulate the knowledge of graphic design spanning over hundred years. He chronicled graphic designing and explored it to such an extent and depth that his students couldn’t help but be amazed and inspired by his dedication to his work. The AIGA calls him the Samuel Boswell of our graphic design age.
Heller is a product of a military school and a progressive prep school on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Interesting fact about his education is that he never received formal art education. Notwithstanding the fact that he had no proper qualification for the position, at the age of seventeen he became an art director. His press pass provided him with the opportunity to attend some New York University lectures on the subject of graphic designing. That only qualifies as his formal college qualification he required to author over sixty books. Following his brief stints at Interview, Rat, Rock, the Evergreen Review and Screw in 1974, he ended up as an art director for the New York Times Op-Ed page. The page featured surrealism, social comment and political illustration. His growing passion for illustration rendered him to produce a variety of collections on the subject. Some of the countless books he penned on the subject of graphic designing include, 100 Ideas that Changed Graphic Design, Art Direction Explained, At Last and Angry Graphics: Protest Posters of the Reagan/Bush Era.