Steven Heller

Recent articles by Steven Heller

Guerrilla graphics

Issue 4, Summer 1991

Feature

Design has the power to effect change. Now it must develop a social conscience

Unpacked baggage

Issue 88, 2014

Review

Is any contemporary illustrator a household name today? Not in the same way…

Leftovers with a bad taste

Issue 87, Spring 2014

Feature

In the past century the use of ‘trade characters’ built brand loyalty while reinforcing…

Raw and radical

Issue 86, Autumn 2013

Review

The ‘underground press’ died out more than 40 years ago. Yet it lives on…

Surfing a 1960s California wave

Issue 86, Autumn 2013

Review

Having spent a week alternately prancing and slogging through John Van…

The physics of sitting

Issue 85, Spring 2013

Review

Brian Lutz’s Eero Saarinen: Furniture for Everyman will appeal to all…

Turn of the Screw

Issue 84, Autumn 2012

Review

‘Sex sells!’ was a 1960s motto. Though not as popular as ‘Peace now’, ‘Make…

Commercial Surrealist

Issue 5, Winter 1991

Feature

Are the pictures of Dallas photographer Geof Kern postmodern retro or authentic art?

Miss Fixit

Issue 83, 2012

Feature

Tina Roth Eisenberg never had a business plan. But all the things she dreams up – the Swissmiss…

Signs of life under an iron fist

Issue 83, 2012

Review

Graphic design histories are, in large part, harvests of unearthed images and…

From dump to designer bookshelf

Issue 79, Spring 2011

Review

It seems antithetical to the DIY fanzine ethos for a book about the subject to be…

Hergé’s adventures in the world of graphics

Issue 69, Autumn 2008

Review

I frequently have lunch at a Belgian café in New York called Le Petite Abeille (the…

Taking a scalpel to the dictators

Issue 80, Summer 2011

Review

John Heartfield is credited with having invented ‘political photomontage’ but an…

Telling and selling

Issue 7, Summer 1992

Feature

Cooper Black is one of the emblematic typefaces of the twentieth century. Who was the man behind the…

Spaniards’ works

Issue 73, Autumn 2009

Review

When I was researching my Deco España: Graphic Design Between the Wars

Gnomic utterances

Issue 75, Spring 2010

Review

There is nothing new about artist’s books composed from pieced together…

It is what it is

Issue 53, Autumn 2004

Feature

Scott Stowell’s Open brings innovation, style and plain speaking to broadcast design

Boy’s Own inventions

Issue 82, Winter 2012

Review

American Heritage, a hardcover quarterly, was my favourite magazine in the 1960s…

Erotic fantasies of a proto-Goth

Issue 71, Spring 2009

Review

If you like Roland Topor, the mid-twentieth-century French Surrealist illustrator…

When Andy got his sticky fingers on an album . . .

Issue 71, Spring 2009

Review

Andy Warhol (1928-87) is the artist who will not die. His life and work helped…

Moderne times

Issue 61, Autumn 2006

Feature

Why has France’s influence upon European graphic design been underestimated and neglected?

Drawing aside the veil over Tehran

Issue 72, Summer 2009

Review

[This is an edited extract from Eye 72. To order the full, printed magazine click…

Sex and pulp and rock’n’roll

Issue 70, Winter 2008

Review

In 1952, US Congressman Ezekiel C. Gathings singled out pocket-sized, mass-market…

Found Master

Issue 70, Winter 2008

Review

I first came across N. P. de Koo while researching my own Dutch Modern (Chronicle…

Murket forces

Issue 70, Winter 2008

Review

Despite my admiration for Naomi Klein’s No Logo (2000), it ultimately served only…

Credits where due

Issue 68, Summer 2008

Review

How do you make God laugh? Make plans! How do you make your publisher cry? Make…

TASS’s take on a tumultuous century [extract]

Issue 67, Spring 2008

Review

The jacket for The Soviet Image does not show the range of this collection. But…

Paper tigers [extract]

Issue 67, Spring 2008

Review

It is difficult to determine which totalitarian or democratic nation during the…

How to write a Modernist’s obituary [extract]

Issue 67, Spring 2008

Review

. . . Peter Seitz: Designing a Life is a concise, well designed and smartly written…

Jan the preacher man

Issue 64, Summer 2007

Review

In 1925 Jan Tschichold branded the new design when he guest-edited a special issue…

Mini-museums, little magazines

Issue 79, Spring 2011

Review

There has been considerable recent interest in ‘little magazines’ from the 1960s…

Crumb’s graphic sweepings

Issue 41, Autumn 2001

Review

Crumb has been the comics’ deity for me since the early 1960s when I saw his…

The alchemist

Issue 60, Summer 2006

Feature

Animator Jeff Scher uses dense, unorthodox techniques to make his highly original, image-rich films…

Eisner puts straight an anti-semitic slander

Issue 57, Autumn 2005

Review

I would wager that few Eye readers have read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a…

Cartoon knowledge

Issue 76, Summer 2010

Review

I have known Jules Feiffer, the cartoonist, playwright, screenwriter and…

America: the lost decades

Issue 1, Autumn 1990

Review

Graphic Design in America: A Visual Language History is a challenging book but it…

Better than the real thing?

Issue 73, Autumn 2009

Feature

Facsimiles give scholars and students the chance to enjoy, understand and literally get to grips…

MoMA’s must-have book of books

Issue 44, Summer 2002

Review

I am holding a book that I guarantee will soon be on every designer’s bookshelf.…

Genteel rebels of Philadelphia

Issue 37, Autumn 2000

Review

It’s not every day that a coffee table book about turn-of-the-century commercial…

Modernism and me: a survivor’s tale

Issue 59, Spring 2006

Review

On reading the first few pages of Natalia Ilyin’s Chasing the Perfect: Thoughts…

New frontier

Issue 68, Summer 2008

Feature

When art director Art Paul made the journey from Bauhaus to Hefner’s Playboy mansion, men’s mags…

Keepers of the flame

Issue 80, Summer 2011

Feature

US picture magazines of the late 1960s and 70s are still a vital source of inspiration

Once upon a time…

Issue 69, Autumn 2008

Feature

… there was a Big Bad President. How satirists use children’s tales to puncture the huffing and…

Storytelling giant

Issue 72, Summer 2009

Feature

Everything Christoph Niemann makes, from visual blogs to picture books, reveals his witty, literate…

Religion’s universal message (board)

Issue 57, Autumn 2005

Feature

World religions put their faith in the standard quarter-inch grooved changeable letter board

Form follows performance

Issue 28, Summer 1998

Feature


Richard Saul Wurman, FAIA, is an architect, cartographer and the author and designer of more than…

Reputations: Alex Steinweiss

Issue 76, Summer 2010

Feature

‘I got this idea that the way they were selling these albums was ridiculous. The covers were just…

Mighty pen

Issue 68, Summer 2008

Review

Political cartoons are rarely covered in graphic design histories. The…

Recalling the Vignelli experience

Issue 54, Winter 2004

Review

‘In the early 1950s,’ begins Massimo Vignelli in the first chapter of this visual…

Face to face with the Afrikan written tradition

Issue 53, Autumn 2004

Review

Contemporary graphic and typographic design histories are mostly America-centric…

Beyond Blackletter

Issue 79, Spring 2011

Feature

The lettering on the covers of Germany’s most popular film magazine expressed plot and tone with…

Testament to tenacity

Issue 81, Autumn 2011

Review

Hitler knew that without the Soviet Union threatening his flank, he could march…

Joyously tasteless art direction

Issue 78, Winter 2010

Review

Allow me to get something off my chest. Of the two jobs I once most coveted in…

A place in the sun

Issue 65, Autumn 2007

Feature

An Art Deco warehouse in Miami Beach throws unexpected light on the dark arts of design

Gothic horror

Issue 62, Winter 2006

Feature

The Nazi party’s obsession with cultural dominance extended far into calligraphy, lettering and…

Comic sans the grown-ups

Issue 74, Winter 2009

Review

There are two names responsible for bringing comics ‘out of the trash and into a…

A terrible beauty

Issue 49, Autumn 2003

Feature

The atomic bomb’s mushroom cloud has become the logo of annihilation

Advertising: mother of graphic design [extract]

Issue 17, Summer 1995

Feature

The word ‘advertising’ makes designers cringe. But it is central to the profession’s history…

Born modern

Issue 10, Autumn 1993

Feature

Painting is dead, long live the dustjacket. Alvin Lustig brought modern art into American bookshops…

Type play for kids

Issue 19, Winter 1995

Feature

It has taken decades for expressive typography to win acceptance in the world of the children's book…

Designing heroes

Issue 43, Spring 2002

Feature

Every era creates heroic imagery that conforms to its specific needs

Darkness visible

Issue 20, Spring 1996

Feature

Amy Guip reconciles commercial image-making with a need to explore more personal themes

Big ideas that built America

Issue 22, Autumn 1996

Feature

In the 1950s and 1960s, American art directors led a creative revolution. Thier secret weapon was…

The man who invented graphic design

Issue 23, Winter 1996

Feature

When W.A. Dwiggins called himself a graphic designer, he coined the phrase that would define…

[Sutnar]

Issue 13, Summer 1994

Feature

Born in Czechoslovakia, Ladislav Sutnar was a pioneer of information design. Working in America in…

Eyes on the world

Issue 26, Autumn 1997

Feature

They are obsolete now, but the picture magazines of the pre-TV era were breeding pens for today's…

Scrap merchants

Issue 27, Spring 1998

Feature

Peter Giradi's practice creates digital landscapes composed of detritus scavenged from the…

Lessons in printing trade journalism

Issue 31, Spring 1999

Feature

For one issue, under Jan Tschichold’s stewardship, a monthly trade journal, Typographische…

Stories unfolding in time and space

Issue 31, Spring 1999

Feature

With a revival of journalistic visual essays in US magazines, illustrators are once again becoming…

Writing on the wall

Issue 30, Winter 1998

Feature

This committed New Yorker tackles personal, self-financed projects that hammer home graphic design's…

Reputations: Maira Kalman

Issue 47, Spring 2003

Feature

‘I was out walking the dear dog and I saw 500 things that made me want to make art’

Look away

Issue 38, Winter 2000

Feature

‘The South’, Seymour Chwast’s special civil rights issue of Push Pin Graphic, was a virtuoso…

Designing Demons

Issue 41, Autumn 2001

Feature

The rhetoric of hate provides ‘a new kind of meaning’

Back after these messages: the No. 17 show

Issue 39, Spring 2001

Feature

Emily Oberman and Bonnie Siegler have a reputation for dancing letterforms and emotionally resonant…

Reputations: Michael Bierut

Issue 24, Spring 1997

Feature

‘The biggest challenge that faces a designer isn’t the quest for novelty, but coming to grips with…

Cult of the ugly

Issue 9, Summer 1993

Feature

Designers used to stand for beauty and order. Now beauty is passé and ugliness is smart. How did…

Reputations: George Lois

Issue 29, Autumn 1998

Feature

‘You can’t research a big idea. The only ideas that truly research well are mediocre ideas. In…

Multi-coloured mirrors

Issue 57, Autumn 2005

Feature

Alan Aldridge’s art direction of Beatles lyrics gave a graphic twist to the Swinging Sixties

Reputations: John Plunkett

Issue 28, Summer 1998

Feature

‘We wanted to avoid the unspoken design taboo: Good design = subtle, tasteful, elegant…

Art directing the opposition

Issue 16, Spring 1995

Feature

Daniel Walsh, former US Marine, founder of Liberation Graphics and self-styled ‘communications…

Dr Leslie’s type clinic

Issue 15, Winter 1994

Feature

Through its publications and gallery, the Composing Room promoted the new American design

Kicking complacency in the ass

Issue 36, Summer 2000

Feature

In the late 1960s, the underground press was a spontaneous and primitive rebellion against the…

The meanings of type

Issue 50, Winter 2003

Feature

The back-stories, informed by trends, cults, philosophies and nationhood

Mr Roughcut

Issue 32, Summer 1999

Feature

or: how graphic designer Pablo Ferro learned to split the screen, cut the crap and tell the story…

Reputations: Bruce Mau

Issue 38, Winter 2000

Feature

‘I think it is one of the paradoxical conditions of design authorship, that you have to be both…

Sue Coe: eyewitness

Issue 21, Summer 1996

Feature

The New York-based artist makes ferocious images as instruments of social change. Her timely new…

Smartest letterer on the planet

Issue 45, Autumn 2002

Feature

Chicago’s comic book hero has a finely tuned gift for hand-lettering

Fast track songlines for type

Issue 75, Spring 2010

Opinion

Steven Heller on Gail Anderson's SVA class in typographic animation

Repossession

Issue 74, Winter 2009

Opinion

After years of wrangling, the posters that the Nazis stole from Hans Sachs are to be returned to his…

Cult of the squiggly

Issue 72, Summer 2009

Opinion

Over-abundant embellishment is spiralling out of control. Time to get out the shears, cries Steven…

The ‘L’ Word

Issue 66, Winter 2007

Opinion

Not all designers are liberals. But you’d never know it from design conferences. Or the pages of…

What do we call ourselves now?

Issue 63, Spring 2007

Opinion

In a world of brand specialists and information architects, is it enough to call ourselves…

Me feral designer

Issue 56, Summer 2005

Opinion

While we don’t need more slick professionals, primitives are no boon either

Springtime for Hitler and Lego

Issue 44, Summer 2002

Opinion

A review of ‘Mirroring evil’ at the Jewish Museum, New York

Reputations: Milton Glaser

Issue 25, Summer 1997

Feature

‘I am nervous about ideologies, whether it’s the ideology of business or the ideology of…

Monitor

Issue 11, Winter 1993

Opinion

Who says classical has to mean boring?

Recent blog posts by Steven Heller

The last magazine czar

24 June 2014

Art director Alex Liberman remembered: ‘His only requirement was that the design make it easy to read the copy.’ Review by Steven Heller
Alexander Liberman (1912-1999) was the first and last twentieth-century magazine czar, writes Steven Heller.

Typorama spectacular

13 January 2014

This Paris retrospective of Philippe Apeloig’s cerebral, conceptual design and typography is a triumph that exceeds high expectations, reports Steven Heller
The last time I saw a gaggle of teenage art students sitting quietly on the floor in a museum gallery intently making sketches of posters hanging on a wall, as though they were drawing from classical plaster casts or painted masterworks, writes Steven Heller, was … never!

Objects of desire

28 February 2013

Designers have been engaged in sex since neolithic times. Well, maybe those neolithics were not designers per se, but they were designing sexual representations, such as Venus (9500-8700BC), found in Lake Bracciano in Italy, writes Steven Heller.