Graphic design is an exciting career path full of new experiences at every turn.

If you have chosen this amazing field and want to really grow in the industry, you will need to learn about some of the top names in graphic design and why they became famous graphic designers.

What will be covered on this article?
  • Chip Kidd
  • Michael Beirut
  • Massimo Vignelli
  • Jonathan Barnbrooke
  • Robb Janoff
  • Kate Morross
  • Ladislav Sutnar
  • Saul Bass
  • Lindon Leader
  • Carolyn Davidson
  • Herb Lubalin
  • David Carson
  • Stefan Sagmeister
  • Paula Scher
  • Milton Glaser
  • Josef Muller-Brockmann
  • Alan Fletcher
  • Hermann Zapf
  • Lester Beall
  • Ivan Chermayeff
  • Jacqueline Casey
  • April Greiman
  • John Maeda
  • El Lissitzky
  • Alvin Lustig

What has made these guys stand out?

Well, they have made a significant impact well above what was initially considered normal and mainstream in graphic design and took things to whole new heights.

They have revolutionized in some way the field of graphic design and how people view it today.

Chip Kidd

One of his most infamous pieces of work is the 2005 book cover Jurassic World. When asked about his inspiration for the design he said that recreating the dinosaurs was based on the bones, and this is what he used in the design.

Chip Kidd is based in New York.

Michael Beirut

One of the best-known design agencies is Pentagram. Michael Beirut not only has plenty of awards under his belt but has been a partner of Pentagram for over 27 years.

And what is he well known for you might ask?

Beirut has done branding for Walt Disney, Benetton, as well as the New York Jets.

Massimo Vignelli

While Massimo was laid to rest in 2014, he has done some pretty unforgettable design work spanning a good half-century.

Think of IBM, Saks, Ford, American Airlines and many, many more.

In fact, Michael Beirut was one of Massimo Vignelli’s proteges. Vignelli is also responsible for the subway map that he created in 1972 for New York City that is still in use today.

Jonathan Barnbrooke

Yes, Jonathan work may include the well-known Heathen, Blackstar and the Next day.  He had earlier works that skyrocketed him to the top of the list as one of the great graphic designers of our time.

Some of these include the Exocet. He also created the controversial typefaces, the Basterd and Tourette.

Robb Janoff

Robb Janoff, for those who don’t know, created the very popular apple logo.

Okay sure, it has been tweaked a little.

However, the basic shape of the logo is pretty much the same as Robb designed it.  He said that his inspiration to create the logo was, well, the computer derives its name from a fruit so why not create a logo of an apple with a bite mark.

Kate Morross

She is the director of Studio Morross and is a graphic designer based in London. She came into the limelight in 2008. Today, Morross is among the top-rated designers in the UK.

She has worked for One direction to create visuals as well as branding and magazine covers.

But where does her unique and brilliant inspiration come from?

Well, Kate Morross says that everyday life inspires her from a simple conversation with a bus driver or going to the shop and accidentally seeing something she likes.

Ladislav Sutnar

Ladislav Sutnar was known for creating beautiful designs out of seemingly senseless imagery. He specialized in information design and through limiting color pallets he managed to make visual information more easily accessible.

Saul Bass

Bass is considered by many as one of the most unforgettable graphic designers. He worked on varying projects from logos to poster designs to film titles.

Saul Bass is responsible for the opening sequence of the famous film Hitchcock.

And when it comes to logos, Bass has done for Kleenex, Minolta, United Airlines and AT&T plus plenty more.

Lindon Leader

He is responsible for one of the most iconic logos out there, the FedEx logo. At the time of its design, Lindon leader was a senior director at Landor Associates.

He cited many designs that the organization had come up with but after shortlisting and presenting to the FedEx manager, in the end, he chose the FedEx logo as we know it today.

Leader is also responsible for the Hawaiian aircraft, Banco and Signa Insurance. But his all-time favorite is the FedEx logo and he is sometimes worried that this logo is the only truly memorable thing about him.

Carolyn Davidson

Everyone knows the Nike Logo. Yes, Carolyn Davidson designed it.  She is proof that more often than not it’s the simple ideas have the biggest impact.

What is intriguing is that when Carolyn Davidson created the design, she was a student studying at Portland University and received a payment of $35 by the founder of Nike Phil Knight.

While the logo seemed simple to many, it actually drew inspiration from the Greek goddess of victory.

Herb Lubalin

Lubalin worked as a topographer, director as well as graphic designer. He is mainly known for his magazine works which included publishing’s by Fact, Eros, Avante Garde, and Ginzburg.

Perhaps one of his best works includes the design of the ITC Avant Garde typeface. He died in 1981 but had won numerous awards such as the AIGA medal.

David Carson

He was known as the “Godfather of Grunge”, a title he acquired after he became notorious for breaking the accepted rules of graphic design.

Carson came up with warped, shredded and sometimes illegible layouts. Designers all over the world view his works as a source of inspiration to break the rules of design and create something new.

Stefan Sagmeister

Stefan Sagmeister is famous for his contemporary designs having worked for HBO and the Rolling Stones, just to mention a few. His modern designs incorporate sexuality, humor and pays special attention to detail. His work is very often eye-catching and will remain etched in the viewers’ memories for a long time.

Paula Scher

She was the first lady to occupy a senior and very strategic position at the world-famous design firm Pentagram.

And there was a reason for this.

Her amazing portfolio showcases impressive works which changed the perception of the design and challenged the normal thinking.

Paula Scher is known for treating type as an Image.

Milton Glaser

He created the I love New York brand, as well as developing the logos for JetBlue and Target. Milton Glaser is also the mind behind the opening sequence of Mad Men.

His designs are creative and timeless as we’ve seen from Musician logo Bob Dylan. Glaser bridges the gap between the seeing and the understanding.

Josef Muller-Brockmann

If there ever was a Swiss designer who captured the concept of vibrant colors and geometric shapes in a unique way then it has to be Josef Muller-Brockmann. He played a huge role in the creation of the grid system which is a very useful tool of graphic design used today.

Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher was a British who completely revolutionized graphic design. His work was characterized by bold colors, topography and very vivid visual language. Businesses quickly noticed his designs and used it for various advertisements.

Hermann Zapf

There are many different ways through which Hermann Zapf changed topography. He is well known for his part in creating the Optima, Zapf Dingbats and Palatino typefaces among others. Hermann was also among the first graphic designers to work on computerized typefaces.

And it doesn’t end there.

Hermann Zapf also came up with a program for typesetting that is often a reference for software developments today.

Lester Beall

Lester Beall brought a different way of thinking and attitude to graphic design with his own inspirational designs. He believed that businesses should view graphic designers as problem solvers from a visual perspective. With this in mind, business owners could take advantage of graphic designers for their marketing campaigns.

Ivan Chermayeff

Ivan Chermayeff developed some timeless logos that are recognizable the world over. Some of these include the Pan Am Globe, NBC and Barney’s New York logo. His designs feature abstract shapes as opposed to using letterforms.

Jacqueline Casey

She created inspirational and highly influential designs on her posters. Jacqueline Casey showcased her Swiss inspired art which was factored in many contemporary designs. Her work was often a perfect combination of a great design together with good meaning.

April Greiman

April Greiman created very artistic and graphic design. He was a strong advocate for using technology in creating excellent designs in the 1980s. During this era, computers were only used to process information. This changed as soon as Greiman showed the world the possibilities of using this new technology and things haven’t been the same since.

John Maeda

Yet another designer who was completely for the use of computer technology in design is John Maeda. He was an explorer of and pushed the boundaries of graphics design from both a technological and analog standpoint. His work was the foundation of interactive motion graphics.

El Lissitzky

This Russian graphic designer created posters for political propaganda using stylized shapes and vivid colors. He was also one of the key founders of Bauhaus, a graphic design school that is responsible for some of the most iconic and influential graphic design.

Alvin Lustig

He revolutionized the designs and imagery used in book covers. Usually, before Lustig introduced his concept, book covers came with a summary of what the content was about. Lustig, however, came with his own method where he started by reading the book and coming up with what was the best cover design in his view.

Final thoughts

The graphic design industry is never static but keeps on changing with the times. As new ideas and concepts come up, savvy graphic designers are always ready to take things to the next level.

25 Most Famous Graphic Designers and Why
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