August 23, 2008

Ben Schlitter – a sense of balance between pixels and pencil

Ben Schlitter is in his own words an artist that uses graphic design and illustration to portray ideas. Sounds pretty straightforward … until you take a good look at Ben’s full palette of offers which includes conceptual design, print design, illustration, interactive design, motion graphics and typography. Ben is also well-known for his paintings, sketchbook "teasers", icons, 3D packaging and other tasty treats.

A self-professed constant doodler since he was a wee lad, Ben found inspiration in his rural Kansas surroundings (sounds like another
Midwestern Maker ZN has featured!), especially in the grid-like farmland viewed from the window of his father’s airplane. Taking a journey through his works reveals on many occasions glimpses of these structures along with various environmental themes which he likes to stress.

Ben, thanks for spending time with us. Jumping right into the interview: looking at your career so far, noting your education and also the different "tools" you are obviously skilled at, can you describe how your design process has evolved over time?
My process has remained roughly the same. I love to sketch – so all my projects begin with pen, paper and research. Of course, it is exciting to learn new tools but ultimately they are just tools that enhance the process rather than control it.

Have you always been essentially computer-based in your design work (vs. illustrations or paintings) or has this changed, and if so, in what ways?
Most of my design has been and remains largely computer-based. One area which is different is with packaging projects, which are much more hands-on. I sketch by folding paper and only move to the computer for the final template and graphic creation.

Has there been a good balance from the start between designs you do by hand vs. via computer?
Well, my paintings are entirely hand-made and not aided by the computer in any way. This definitely helps me to preserve a balance. Also, I draw constantly, usually in the form of doodles as I take breaks from the computer. These doodles rarely end up in the finished designs but encourage a sense of balance between pixels and pencil.

As with many of the designers I have met and/or most admire, I find that there is a refreshing "simplicity" with your work, even among some of your most complex projects, including for example the "Geo + Info Postcard Project" or even the
"Bicycle Race" Music Video (ZN notes this is NOT a commercial offer and is only intended to show off Ben’s skills... plus, it’s really cool!).

How do you keep your works simple enough but still capable of conveying the message the customer wants to get across?

I maintain simplicity by committing a great deal of energy toward a project's initial concept. This in turn becomes my guide and forces a simplification down to the necessary elements.

I like to think of design as something that is not finished when you have added everything you can. Instead for me a good design is finished once you’ve removed everything you don't need. I can't remember who said this but I think about it constantly.

Do you see your design processes or designed objects becoming more complicated in the future, even at risk of becoming "over-engineered"? For example, looking at the FHSU Art Department design – although it is very interesting and even "familiar" in its form and functionality – it is an extremely detailed and carefully engineered project. How did you keep it then so user-friendly or perhaps better said usable?
Because I approach design as a process that reduces complexity, I believe that an over-engineered design is usually not well thought out. As such, I hope my work – now and in the future – remains simple and understandable to my audience.

No doubt, projects will continue to grow in scope, and also the number of components and collaborators involved will also continue to increase. New technologies will be utilized. This can all add complexity if not handled properly, both from a design process point of view and also when looking at the finished product.

Speaking earlier of the "Geo + Info Postcard Project" : this has led to a lot of exposure over the past several months and there are many very good articles about it (ZN recommends for example this one). Without asking you the same questions that you've answered now a thousand times already, can you provide us with a quick run-down of this project?
I love the "Geo + Info Postcard Project" because it combines my interest in travel and the desire to design products that promote learning. This type of project is very important to my studio.

This particular project began as a poster design that would eventually "disappear" as people removed pieces and mailed them to friends. The idea proved more practical as a postcard set, which you see currently on the site. It has also been a very good self-promotion piece. Besides selling many sets of postcards, I received numerous freelance projects along with several full-time employment offers as a result of this project.

I find it very interesting that you are so "giving" on your home website. For example, you include links to your sketchbooks, provide downloads of many icons and even other works in progress. Why is that?
Well, it’s no secret that you can always find an audience when something is offered for free. But to be honest, giving away icons has been the best self-promotion I've done and its really helped to attract clients. You see, I try to get noticed without being annoying* and creating icons is a good example of this approach. (*ZN – note to self: must try this some time)

Sure, the Web makes it very hard to share your work and not have it stolen. So I like to create things specifically for the purpose of being able to say "go ahead, I want you to take this". Does it keep people from copying my work? I'm not sure … but I know people enjoy sharing in my creations.

Most importantly, I want my work to be friendly. I want it to make people smile and think. So, I open up the door a bit and let them look in. Not too much but enough that they can sense my passion for design and love of creativity.

How did you get involved in packaging projects?
During my studies I created scores of packaging projects. I enjoy packaging because of the 3D nature. It challenges my mind to think in different directions while exploring and choosing which materials are best for the concept. It is very rewarding in that I get to control so many details. I also became interested in packaging so that I could promote myself properly and undertake in-house packaging projects, such as the "Geo + Info Project" and the "Mini Sketchbooks".

Is there a particular form, media, even effects or textures you look for in these projects?
I gravitate towards simple materials such as paper. Also, it's refreshing to turn an everyday element into something unexpected. For example, I used rubber bands for the "TWENTYFOUR" wine label design and transformed an everyday item into something beautiful. This design to me reflects then the ability of a good wine to transform a meal into a special occasion.

How do you balance the artistic side of packaging design with the obvious need for functionality?
With packaging design, you definitely need three components: concept, material and functionality. First, I look at the project's concept and then I explore to see which materials feel right and what is the best way for them to function.

I usually yield to functionality because it is so important. And to be honest, I often find the balance through trial and error.

I also really enjoyed surfing through your "inspirations" section, where there are several images that elicit very different, often emotional reactions. If you could briefly sum it up : what is it that inspires you most?
I'm inspired by details. Whether in nature or in man-made structures, I love exploring the details. Details show you care.

As a hobby "pencilist"-slash-bad-cartoonist and even infrequent user of oil-based paints, I’m curious as to why you chose going down the acrylics pathway? Just wondering, I’ve had a similar discussion with my father, who's much more of a fan than I am of using watercolors.
I like the immediacy of acrylic and on occasion I’ve flirted with watercolors. Both are simple to work with and give me the effects I want. On the other hand, I don't use oil paint because of the fumes. It’s just too complicated with all the cleaners, thinners and such.

I'm also picking up in many of your selections what seems to be a strong interest in mechanics and machine forms, noting quite a few rocket ships or even "Russian robots".
The mechanical aspect is an influence from childhood. My father designs airplanes and bikes so I was exposed to detailed drawings from a young age. In fact, I have three brothers and we all have a mechanical bent in our art and design. No one was immune!

How do you decide on the color scheme to include in your different projects?
There are different ways I approach this. One is that I take numerous photos from which I sample colors. That is one way to get a good basis for moving ahead with the coloration. I also think I have a strong built in sense of color. Because of this I’m pretty good at mixing colors from scratch until I find something that works.

Overall, the colors I choose usually tend toward a friendly palette. I've learned that people react strongly to color and that if you can nail the colors, the rest of the design process is much easier.

It can be a real challenge when I have to use a customer's existing color palette. If the color is particularly unsuitable in my eyes, I will minimize it by introducing other elements, such as photos, to counter balance the effect.

Have you ever had a project that you thought just didn't work out – for any reason – and what did you learn from this experience?
Yes … but you won't find them on my website!

Bad projects do happen but I always learn something no matter how painful the experience. I've discovered it's best to keep moving, learn from your mistakes and put the new knowledge to work with the next project. I think that usually the person who makes a lot of mistakes is also the one who learns the fastest and in the end produces the most innovative work.

A couple of questions I always enjoy asking creative persons: EXCLUDING all your talents or current interests, if you could do any other kind of work in the world, what would it be and why? Turning it around: what kind of job would you absolutely hate doing and why?
If I could do any other job, I would teach, specifically design. It's very rewarding and I love the exchange of ideas between student and teacher. I really find that I learn the most about something when I teach it.

In terms of what I’d definitely not want to do would be telephone solicitation. I would have a terrible time calling people and asking them to buy magazine subscriptions.

Looking ahead for the next years, do you see any particular design trends in your field(s)?
Well, everything will need to look good on the iPhone, ha ha!

But seriously, I think people are embracing friendly-looking design not only because it makes them smile but also because it's very functional when done right. I would consider the iPhone interface an example of friendly design that is incredibly functional.

How about for design in general?
I see design continuing to become more "integrated". While all designers – and that’s a very broad description, I know – specialize to a certain degree in their areas of choice, I see great benefits for those who really understand how to utilize and incorporate aspects from other various fields that may overlap or be close to their own.

How do you see your own business evolving?
More logo design and illustration. Also, I will continue to do projects like "Geo + Info" that blur the line between design, promotion and education.

Insert here: Free Space for Any "Advertising" You Want to Do (e.g. what's next for Ben Schlitter and "Studiobenben", etc.) :
Up next is a new series of "Geo + Info" postcards and several new icon sets. I’m always interested in pushing my portfolio and all my new ideas, including my original drawings and illustration prints. And as always, I love it when folks visit the web-site to inquire about new projects!

I guess if you’re giving me a free pass to advertise, I’d tell everyone that before leaving on your next holidays, please stop by and
pick up some postcards. And if you’re not too busy reading "Ziggy Nixon", then also follow "Studiobenben" on my blog!


In 2005, Ben Schlitter established "Studiobenben" as a multi-disciplinary studio in order to facilitate the creation of the myriad of his design endeavors. In 2006, he received a Master of Fine Arts in graphic design from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas, where he also won various design contests along the way to graduating.

In 2007, he made the jump to California to pursue his art and design opportunities in the interactive industry. Ben currently resides in Santa Monica and when he wants to "get away from it all", he also enjoys reading, bicycling, cooking and travelling, just not necessarily all at the same time... remember, keep it simple!

All pictures and images full copyright of Ben Schlitter, used by special licensed permission.

If you want to copy something, at least have the decency to try out his free stuff first...

August 12, 2008

The Magic at Sun Rise – Shahar Peleg

Shahar Peleg (b. 1976) is a multi-disciplined designer who develops and produces a wide selection of commercial items in limited quantities. His creations are highly sought after in design stores and via on-line distributors based in Israel and other countries or areas including Japan, Singapore, Australia, Europe and the United States.

Shahar’s interesting take on design is that he creates every-day objects with additional values giving them a fresh character and great sense of fun. His experimentations with optical illusions often result in smart and surprising designs that challenge the spectator to take a closer, more detailed look. His products are typically made with ordinary materials and are characterized by their minimalist forms.

Ziggy Nixon recently caught up with this talented young Israeli artist to ask more about how he manages to conjure up so many wonderfully magical designs:

Shahar, thanks so much for your time.

To start off, how would you describe yourself – or let's say your professional "title" – best? I've seen you described as a "multi-disciplined-" or "industrial-" designer or even a "stylist". What do you think best fits your own vision of your work?

I think that "products designer" comes closest. However, to be honest, even then I usually think of product designers as professionals who work with clients or design for companies. The key difference for me is that I work on only my own ideas and products under my own brand.

In fact, I rarely accept an offer to design something for another brand or company. I like working where no one from outside is dictating any part of the design process to me. Also, for me its very important that only the "general public" – that is the people who buy or receive my products – ultimately judge how good my work is or how successful a piece turns out to be.

Your designs seem to have a special flair but also a sense of simplicity to them. Do you see your design processes or designed objects becoming more complicated in the future?

In terms of my work changing, my products continue to technically improve (materials, production processes, packaging, etc.). But I still like to focus on everyday products that are "simple", or which come from simple needs and lead then to creating a simple design.

I'm not interested in designing products like phones, cars or any other complicated or progressive products. I want to stay with "low-tech" items that make you smile and then continue growing by doing these even better.

Looking at your collection, there is an obvious need for some know-how in terms of material engineering, including metal behavior, heat or water resistance properties, etc.. How do you bring into your design process the needed "operational" details, for example, making sure that a wine bottle holder stays strong, or that a pot holder does not melt?

For me a lot of the needed technical knowledge is acquired during the design and creation process. Each time I start to work with a material or process that I'm not familiar with, I study it very thoroughly.

In some cases, I’ll consult with experts and other colleagues for support. In other cases, there is a LOT of "trial and error" involved.

For example, with the "Crime Scene trivet", we tried around 10 different materials (wood, rubber, silicone, cork, felt, etc.) before we decided to work with metal. Then in our studio, we test all new products extensively to avoid possible faults that might occur from normal usage. We also try to think a few steps ahead as well.

This is for me very important because I feel the function is more important than the form.

A little further into this topic, the "Reflective Menorah" you are so well-known for is not only beautiful in its design and color, but displays an amazing use of reflectivity and playful utilization of light (10 out of 10, I love it!). Can you describe the design process used for creating this elegant piece?

I also love this product and am proud of the success its enjoyed.

You see, some of my products actually start from an idea or technique and then afterwards I think about how to use these in a product, versus the other way around.

In the case of the Menorah, the principle of twisted optics is known since the Middle Ages. Looking at this ancient technique, I then decided to use it in my design. (To be accurate – this Menorah is actually an Hannukia. See more about it

In terms of how I designed this piece, I first took the familiar shape of the Menorah and distorted it. Then I placed the mirror in front of it to "correct" the image and reflect the original shape back to the viewer. Again, this was a good example of how sometimes designs can be long "trial and error" processes, as it wasn’t so easy to get the shape just right and keep the aesthetics in place.

Do you have a favorite media with which you work? You seem to have several items made not only from metal but also even glass and/or mirror, as seen below with your "tic-tac-toe" board? Do you have any media that you haven't tried yet but would like to experiment (more) with?

Again, my products grow from ideas that I have in my head. Once I have an idea and a product to fit or let’s say "contain" it, I start thinking of possible suitable materials.

For example, I still don’t have any plastic products in the market, but I'm working on one right now, noting that colleagues who have seen the prototype think it's going to be a hit. Here was again a case where I knew nothing about plastic but because this product as I saw it in my mind had to be made out of plastic, I learned about the material and worked from there. And I think I did a good job with it.

What would you describe as your main target for something you design?

I think that with the kind of products I design, that are typically then bought as a present for someone or even for personal use, should "make" you do something.

What I mean is I want my work to "make you smile", or "make you go ‘WOW’!" or make you wonder or think about how an effect is achieved. For me, in order to achieve this, the design has to be out of the ordinary. It has to have some "magic" in it.

Describe a little bit more the importance of including this sense of magic that you bring into your work?

I was always fascinated with optical illusions and illusions in general. In fact, when I was about 15 years old I trained to be a magician. I loved magic and I also thought it will be a good way to earn some money. So, I took a short course and started to perform at birthday parties and other events. I even made enough money for my first television, an audio system and a trip to Greece.

But very importantly, my love for magic is still strong today, and I think it shows in most of my products.

You apparently like to keep your works "affordable" (whatever that means these days!!). Why is this important to you, noting you’ve commented before that this aspect is your "cardinal rule of design"?

I like to reach as many people as I can. I want my products to be accessible to people like me and my friends who like design but don’t think that you have to take out a second mortgage to buy cool stuff.

I think that the price in the store where that first impression is made with the customer is very important. Sometimes I will even change something in the product so it can fit the "right price" (as long as it's not harming or compromising the design).

I really enjoy hearing from stores or distributors who tell me that they have some customers that always come back to buy the same product of mine over and over. For example, one store told they had a customer who has purchased dozens of sets of the magnetic vases this past year as presents for her friends and family.

I guess that not only she liked the product but so did those who received the presents. Still, this example says to me as well that the price has to be "right" and plays a big part of the success of my products.

One only has to search for your name on the Internet to see that your materials are sold in several countries and regions. Still, do you see any particular challenges or other barriers facing an Israeli designer or artist in the world today?

No ;-)

One on-line mention of your work described the following:
"When product designer Shahar Peleg got married ... he and his bride were both seeking appealing but unobtrusive center-pieces for their tables. They couldn’t find a thing, so engaging that typical Israeli creativity, Shahar developed magnetic vases..."

For someone who doesn't have too much experience with the local culture, how would you describe to me what "typical Israeli creativity" means?

I don't think that these days there can be a "typical" description assigned to different artists working in any country. We live in a smaller and smaller world, we all read the same blogs on the Internet and we all go to the same fairs (or see reports about them on-line). So it's hard to indicate any sort of "standard" characteristic of any country in today’s design world.

But if I had to put my finger on one thing that might be the Israeli designer "thing" I guess it is improvisation. Making things from junk. I guess we could be called the "MacGyver’s" of design.

By the way, I got this definition from Mel Byars, a design historian and author who recently published a book on Israeli design called "Improvisation, New Design in Israel" (see link

Looking ahead for the next years, do you see any particular design trends affecting your work?

I don’t follow trends. I really don’t even know what’s trendy these days. I do what I believe in and hope people will love it even if it's not trendy.

In the future, I guess that the kind of design I'm dealing with now will stay as it is: making things you really desire but usually don't really need…

I've seen you graduated with a first degree in Interior Architecture but that you’ve later said that you even didn't like it so much. Still, what influence did your education have on your work?

I think that the thing with interior design is that you have a client, who usually doesn't really understand design. Maybe they want things that they saw in a magazine or in a friend’s house. Then as the designer you have to make compromises and the final result can be very far from your vision.

In comparison, again in my "field" I have the luxury to do what I want, and only the people – the clients – will decide if its good or not, and if they'll buy it or not.

Still, I think that my interior design studies gave me a different point of view of products and life in general, which was very important for my development. In fact, when I lecture today to product design students and they ask me if I regret not learning product design, my answer is "no". I think this is part of my basic make-up as a designer.

If you could do any other kind of work in the world, what would it be and why? Maybe I should restrict you from answering magician, no?

Been there, done that… (:-)

I think I have the privilege – as I had when I was 15 and doing magic – to do what I love and make my living from it. If I could chose what I want to do – I would be the designer I am now.

What kind of job would you absolutely hate doing and why?

Paperwork. I hate it and I’m really not very well organized…

Finally, what does "Shahar" mean? I really think its a great name!

Shahar means "Dawn". Just before the sun rise…


Shahar Peleg of Peleg Design (based in Tel-Aviv) graduated from the Academic Institute of Technology Holon in 2004 with a first degree in Interior Architecture. He has exhibited his works in numerous shows in Israel and around the world.

Included among the honors he has received are Second Prize at the Tokyo International Gift Show (March 2007) and also First Prize at the GAPP Design Awards- Singapore Gift and Premiums Fair (July 2006). For more, please visit
Shahar’s web-site linked also to the right in this blog or just scan the dozens of web-sites that feature great gifts and beautiful objects from his design selection.

August 3, 2008

Stefan Sagmeister - 100 greetings from lovely 14 Street

This is the full version of an article printed first under the title “Complaining is Silly - An Interview with Stefan Sagmeister” @ at this link. The new title is taken from Stefan’s own “sign off” (hell, he even writes creative emails, go figure).

All pictures and images full copyright of Stefan Sagmeister, used by special licensed permission. For full details to various images in this article, see either Stefan’s web-site or in addition

If you're doing research on Stefan Sagmeister and his work, you'd better make sure your computer has enough free disk space. For someone still comfortably under the age of 50 (b.1962 in Bregenz, Austria), his work, as well as the many reviews, interviews and other written overviews would easily fill your memory stick for sure.

Stefan's work has spanned an amazing amount of applications, uses and media. He is perhaps best known to the masses for his album covers for such stars as Lou Reed, the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, and David Byrne – former lead man and pure genius behind the Talking Heads for those not keeping up, with Stefan even winning a Grammy for his cover design for a special limited edition box set for this band.

During his various stops around the world he has also built up an amazing portfolio of books, branding designs, graphics, packaging, posters, even cars and other "mobile" forms of getting the message across! His media has ranged from the usual to the extremely unusual and he is known for clever works made of rubber (for example, just search for the phrase "monkey balloons in Scotland"), sculptures designed specifically for each award winner, clothing to spell out type, organic materials of all sorts, interactive visual media that change as someone walks by, works created with thousands of filled coffee cups, works made of bananas (changing color over time), billboards that slowly fade away in the sun, and even a very painful – though ultimately rewarding – venture into carving his work into his own skin, as shown here (sans naughty bits).

Stefan's web-site is also one of the most well presented electronic playgrounds you can find. Not only does it take the viewer through a well-presented tour of many of the works and themes mentioned above, but also takes the time to share "typical" questions with enquiring minds and young designers, not that these two are necessarily exclusive from one another (note: we do indeed encourage everyone – particularly those interested in the business of design or crazy enough to be thinking about going into this field – to visit the web-site's "Design as a Process" section).

Stefan, you are certainly one of the most decorated designers we've met with, if not at least the tallest.

First, to quote one of our favorite Monty Python sketches : how tall are you (seeing you pictured next to your lady friend recently was perhaps a misleading comparison)? Secondly, can you tell us how it feels or what it means to be essentially considered a "celebrity designer"?

First, I am 1.95 meters tall.

Second, my favorite fame-in-design quote comes from Chip Kidd “(a) famous designer is like a famous electrician”. In my opinion, electricians and designers enjoy the most desirable kind of fame, because they are to a large extent in charge of it. When famous electricians decide to visit electricians conferences, there will be pats on their backs and egos will be stroked, but outside of these conferences they will be able to go anywhere without intrusions.

I have worked with numerous actual stars, famous clients whose fame – up close – did not look like much fun at all. For example, if you walk into a Starbucks with Lou Reed, the whole place goes quiet. People turn around. They whisper.

Can you give us some insight into your general design process from A to Z (or because of your busy schedule, say A to Q), including how do you "pick out" the ultimate form, texture and color a work incorporates (for full credit, you must use all three of these words in your answer)?

One of my most frequent sources of inspiration is a newly occupied hotel room. I find it easy to work in a place far away from the studio, where thoughts about the implementation of an idea don't come to mind immediately but I can dream a bit more freely.

Many designers I respect create (non client driven) experiments as a regular part of their practice. The key word here is 'regular'. I found that experiments which are not part of a regular schedule, have a tendency to get pushed out by more 'urgent' jobs simply on account of having a deadline attached to them.

Among all the media you've worked with what has been your favorite?


What would you like to work with that you have not tried yet?

Serious, high end cell animation.

You've indicated before the importance of being "choosy" when picking a client (e.g. no a-holes) as well as a project, especially in terms of keeping your interest high, being proud to be associated with the outcome, and also to be honest ­getting paid.

Has their ever been a project you've done that you'd like to go back and redo, and if so, how and why?

No, I'd rather learn from the experience and do it better next time. I am not big on regrets.

For someone that I would still consider to be relatively young (heck if you're old, I'm not far behind you), you seem to incorporate a lot of "philosophy" in your works, including your various "split" pieces (e.g. "Trying", "To Look", "Good", "Limits", "My Life") and even widely published "excerpts" from your diary, including one of your best known pieces of advice given as the title of (the previous article.

Explain a bit then about the emotions you're trying to generate with these philosophically based works and why it is that you do seem to the untrained eye to focus on "words of wisdom" in your works.

The entire series "Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far" came out of a desire to create graphic design that goes beyond promoting and selling. I have nothing against either (my parents were sales people) but think that the design language is too powerful to do just those two things with it. Its like learning French and then using it exclusively to talk with your accountants.

Again, in reference to your philosophical side, some of your works "split up" a message, be it in different picture frames or even works that span over several cities. What message or impact are you trying to convene with these separation techniques?

These are just practical devices, i.e., a long sentence being divided up over several billboards. No particular mystery behind it.

Now according to your own words you were indeed once a musician in a band, albeit the worst musician in a bad band to be exact. What other work would you consider doing (exceptions: design and music then) and why?

Making films. Sounds like fun.

You've indicated some, let's say, discomfort about the work being done by larger branding consultancies out there. With that in mind, how do you feel about the ever-growing and some say more and more invasive use of ad media in our lives today (e.g. pop-up ads on INTERNET, ads broadcast through our mobile phones, the swarm of print and visual ads we deal with everywhere, even when rushing to meet our plane)? Do you have any feelings of discomfort about being involved in this market?

I am not involved in any of the things you mention above. While I do agree that it does make the world uglier in many regards, I am not that worried, as I block all that crap out immediately. The entire notion that "we are now bombarded with 25,000 messages a day" is technically correct, but the more crap I am bombarded with, the better I get in blocking from even entering my mind.

You've had some interesting stops on your world-wide career tour. If the gods themselves appeared to you and said "you can have your cake and eat it, too", namely, you could pursue your interests ANYWHERE in the world without any discomfort or interruption to your processes, where would you go set up shop and why?

I will start my second client free , experimental year this September 1st near Ubud, in Bali, Indonesia. The gods themselves appeared.

You've not only done some work that contains strong statements or images in relation to social responsibility, but have also commented how important this is to you.

Where do you see yourself and your own role in terms of social responsibility? Can / should the design industry being doing more in this regard and if so, in what way?

There is no special responsibility for designers, but there is one for us as humans.

Do you see any trends either for your own work or the world around you? Or do you prefer to keep trends out of your radar scope?

Everything that can be animated, will be animated. The still image will lose its importance. I am going to Bali.

Extra credit:

How did the "Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far" show go? Can you describe a little bit in terms of what it takes to prepare for such a show? How does this hinder or help your overall creative process and your "day job"?

Right from the start it was so crowded that the cops had to come with bullhorns to get the waiting masses out of the traffic on Grand Street. Inside it felt more like a Bangkok disco then a New York design exhibit opening. My friend Paul, while parking his car 3 blocks away, was warned by a homeless man 'not to go over there, - its too crazy'.

We did have 10,000 typographically arranged bananas on the wall, a couple of giant inflatable monkeys about, and Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli and Bob Gill all taking hourly shifts drawing type into the fogged up window of the gallery.

It seems all of your web bios love to start out with "He's Austrian", like this seems to indicate you have a third arm or an extra eye on your forehead (same as my experience working for nearly 18 years in Switzerland, I am always introduced as "Ziggy Nixon, who is zkwxtkz (sorry signal temporarily lost)...", noting I had my own third eye removed years ago). All kidding aside, what "hints" of your Bregenzian roots could one find in your works? How do you think this differentiates you from other "native" colleagues say in either New York or Hong Kong?

I became aware very early that a life lived solely on financial goals will be a very poor one, a notion that is likely to be more readily available in Bregenz than in NYC.

You've also given well received presentations for
TED. How was that for you?

The first time VERY intimidating, as I was sandwiched between the guy to decoded the genome (Craig Ventor) and the women who fixed the Hubble telescope. I felt like an idiot showing my CD covers. But it turned out that the scientists are as interested in my world as I am in theirs.

Some folks think TED can be a bit "exclusive" (at $6'000 a ticket, I could see why some would think that). Do you find that to be the case or even is their presentation "rules" (e.g. limited time, etc.) in any way "constrictive" for your style?

YES, it is a "bit" exclusive, to say the least, but considering they put so many talks up on the web for free, its hard to keep bitching about it.

Okay, I'm not the gods anymore, but instead the Devil HERSELF (ahem). You've been a bad boy and I'm going to punish you by making you do the job you would most hate in the world. What would it be and why?

Design one more Aerosmith CD cover.

Ziggy Nixon James Posey Stefan Sagmeister