Learning By Creating Things I Have Learned In My Live So Far


Just right after I finished art school in Stuttgart, Germany with a “Diploma” in “Grafik Design” my good friend Jan Wilker, who moved from Stuttgart to New York about a year earlier, told me on one of his vacations back home, that the design studio he was formerly interning for, Sagmeister Inc., New York, was looking for a junior designer in the course of reopening the office after a year long sabbatical to rejuvenate the principals creative spirit.

The principal being Stefan Sagmeister, a highly though after designer with an immensely impressive portfolio of work under his belt, back then freshly showcased in his first monograph “Made You Look,” I was more then thrilled to get the extraordinary opportunity to present my finals project to him, even if it was just for the fact of meeting him once! So I packed my portfolio and booked a flight, and one month later in the spring of 2002 I started my brand new job in a for me brand new and fascinating city!

Stefan’s studio historically always was and still is very small, it only employs three individuals at a time for most of its existence: him as the creative genius/director, one designer (which I had the honor to be for six consecutive years), and one intern. This and the fact that Stefan, a native of the small but precious alpine country Austria, is one of the most talented, most successful, but still most upright and down to earth designers and human beings I know, made my time with him in his office the most influential and formative times in my life!

Within the first month after reopening the studio on West 14th street, we started working on a serious of 21 self initiated typographic pieces under the overarching title “Things I Have Learned in My Life so Far.” Even though the concept and visual content of the series was created by Stefan, the studio, and over the years many other participants, like photographers and digital imaging artists, every piece had its paying client, providing us with a budget to do so.

After five and a half years working on this (and a considerable number of other, I don’t want to say “regular, ” but “also financially rewarding” projects), we started gathering all the fruits of our work in a summarizing book, the second monograph of the studio, “Things I Have Learned in My Life so Far.”

Now, three years after its publishing date, including about 10 month of being on my own, running my own studio, I very often do take the book out of the shelf and leaf through it. And it is just now that I realize how true, honest and and important some of Stefan’s “Eurekas” are for me and my life! I guess I reached the (generally) sometimes necessary distance to to see the greater whole.

Below: Exhibition poster for Sagmeister Inc. studio at the SVA gallery, New York

About The Author

Matthias Ernstberger is co-founder and president of Timko&Klick, a New York based multidisciplinary art direction and graphic design firm. Before founding Timko&Klick in March 2009, Matthias spent 6 years as designer at Sagmeister Inc., New York, and 2 years as art director at the fashion branding boutique agency Lipman. Please feel to contact Matthias directly at Matthias@Timkoandklick.com

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