Over the past few weeks a few students and designers have asked me who inspired me. As I thought about the list, I found it kind of telling as to what type of designer I am, and what I value. Here is my short list:
The people that inspired me, and still do inspire me are: Dick Powell, Giorgetto Giugiaro, Raymond Lowey (“Never leave well enough alone”), Isamu Noguchi, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leonardo da Vinci, Aero Saarinen, Bill Mitchell, Harley Earl (not really a designer, but an evangelist for design), Boccioni, Nuccio Bertone, Constantin Brancusi, Antonio Sant’Elia, and heavily by Joe Johnston (who did a lot of concept work on Episode IV, V, and VI).
For me, there are many sources of inspiration. There are of course the modern designers as we know them, people with amazing talent for creating beauty. You mentioned Da Vinci. He fits in my category of people who just had a drive and a passion for exploring life and the universe - like Edison, Einstein, etc. I’m really inspired by those kinds of people. My third source of inspiration is nature - whether you believe in a Creator or not, the natural order and beauty of nature is just amazing. I think nature contains the best examples of ‘form follows function,’ too.
For me it isn’t a who, but a what. What inspires me?
All the people mentioned so far have provided some kind of inspiration at some point in my life. All the people, the goosebumps from watching Toy Story and the amazing 3D graphics, my family, my kids, watching my father die, watching my mother survive breast cancer, carrying my wife down Kilimanjaro with the sky lit like fireflies at 2 AM because she had altitude sickness.
Moments inspire me more than people. I get the question, but I can’t see past the fact that the people are part of a moment that is bigger than the person.
I appreciate your comments, IP. As a student, I haven’t really been in ID long enough (a year) to have so many experiences such as your own. Your comments reminded me though of my Grandpa who died last fall. The last few years of his life he had one of those power chairs, not of necessity, but just to make things a little easier. In retrospect it was probably that decision to get the power chair that weakened him to the point of not being strong enough to survive his illness. It’s made me think about how maybe products shouldn’t always make things easier… Sorry to get OT…
ip_ I should have clarified. I meant WHO in terms of what designers/artists/creatiives inspire/influence your work and how you work. The people who when you were in school you said to yourself “I want to be like that!”
The Countach was designed by Marcello Gandini, I think Giorgetto Giugiaro worked on it as well.
Many of mine are the same as stated above. But the ones that probably influenced me the most:
Don McLean - No one on here will have heard of him. He didn’t design anything you would have heard of. He was my first employer. Crotchety old fart. Zippy makes me think of him more often than not. He taught me more about manufacturing and designing plastic parts in the 5 years I worked for him than I could have ever asked.
Sohrab Vossoughi - My interaction with Sohrab was short, but he was immensely inspiring both with the company he’s built and the humble nature he approaches life and design with.
John Lasseter - I love CG and will always get goosebumps when I look at how well a computer can recreate “reality”. I still remember what it felt like seeing Luxo Jr for the first time.
Bill Watterson - His artistic ability and ability to weave a story is fantastic and will stand the test of time.
Berke Breathed - Similar to Watterson, I have spent more hours of my life pouring over the antics of Opus the penguin than I care to admit.
I have to agree with zippy. My biggest source of inspiration was not from a major designer but from the people around me. One of the biggest has to be one of my old college Profs from SCAD Bob Fee. It was not only that he was a fabulous designer but it was that if he believed in you he was very motivating. He would spend hours with you after class helping you figure out how your stupid little cell phone design could be manufacturable or if he wasn’t able to help you he would come in after hours and burn the late night oil.
Other people that inspire me:
Michael Grave (or should I say Michael Graves Assoc.) I know he is very disliked by most Industrial designers but I do like the playfulness of his designs. And I have met many of the people that work there and they are a fun crowd.
Sir Ken Robinson
His views on creativity are awesome not to mention he is hilarious.
Dev Patnaik from Jump Assoc.
I have worked with Dev a few times and he has a way of pointing out trends and insights that are greatly over looked. He also does not hold back and lets you know when something is completly ridiculous.
The first thing I ever really wanted to draw really well and took the time and ended up with something that made me think that maybe I could draw was a Nike Air cross trainer, so I guess that’s Tinker?
I was into Image comics when I was 12 or 13 or so, not a fanatic, but i liked the art a lot. That’s when I really started drawing more. After drawing all the characters from Cyberforce
in my college ruled notebook, my sister bought me a drawing pad and some pencils. So, Marc Silvestri and Jim Lee I believe did my more favorite art in there.
High School and Junior College was into Chuck Close, Alberto Giacomete, Brancusi, and a ton of graffiti artists, but particularly DAIM.
First year of ID(2002) I came across zanicdesign.com the website of Alberto Villareal
, it was eye opening, and was kind of one of the first website of this type I found. I followed many of the links over the next few weeks. One of my favorites from there and for a long time to come was one of Alberto’s UMES classmates, Tommy Forsgren
toyfon.com being a student, still very new to the field in general the sketches I saw on their sites was unlike anything I had seen before. They both had unique styles with a few similarities. Very loose and precise at the same time. Very gestural, but descriptive and I was hooked.
I was also blown away by Doug Chiang
and Jay Schuster’s work in The Art of Star
As I became more informed (however slightly) I was introduced to some other designers. I fell in love with Ross Lovegrove’s “Go” chair
and started to really get into Marc Newsom’s various implementation of the hourglass form into various design objects.
About this time I took a class that has been one of the greatest sources of inspiration since. My studio professor created a summer class that was a 3 or 4 week roadtrip from the Midwest out to the Eastcoast and back. We visited Herman Miller, CCS, had our cars broken into and stuff stolen in Cleveland, Michael Graves Studio, IDEO Boston, DC, Boston MFA, RISD, Smart design, the Gugenheim, MET, Cooper-Hewitt (skin exhibition), Cornell, Falling Water, and whatever else I missed. Tight quarters in van/car and hotel rooms made for a sometimes rough, but bonding experience. It was the people, it was the places, but most of all it was the combination and the total immersion.
Over the course of the next year I still knew I was pretty ignorant of the field at large, but felt I had a much better idea of what it was I was getting myself into. And finding some of the traditional ID staples many that have been listed.