Monday, February 22, 2010

Tibor Kalman

'After fifteen or twenty years in the profession I discovered that design is just a language and the real issue is what you see that language to do'

Kalman was a Hungarian born designer who escaped to the USA in 1956 after the soviet invasion. He began his education in journalism, not design but while working in New York as a clerk for Barnes & Noble he was made director of design and eventually ended up founding his own design agency called M&Co, in 1979. Notable areas of his career are, creative director of "Interview" magazine beginning in 1990, and editor-in-chief of "Colors," the controversial magazine sponsored by Benetton.

In the 1980's Kalman became well known for his use of controversial images to raise awareness of political issues. The philosophy of his art could be described as "position first, style second." His art demonstrates that the designer can, and possibly must, be responsible for the content of the message as well as the presentation. "Colors" magazine took a provocative stance on social problems. One issue offered an article entitled "How to Change Your Race," with complementary images of Queen Elizabeth as a black woman and Pope John Paul as an Asian man.

Kalman never claimed to draw well, nor did he have any formal training in design; he was known for his ideas. The legacy of his influence however, is shown in designers such as Alexander Isley, Steven Doyle, and Stefan Sagmeister, all of whom were employed by him at M&Co and left to eventually start their own successful firms. In this way Kalman’s design principles continue to make a lasting impact in the world even through the work produced by those he influenced.

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