Inspirations and Motivations to BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle

Inspirations and Motivations to  BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL  DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle 

On Being Selfish—in a Good Way

On Being Selfish—in a Good Way
Inspirations and Motivations to  BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle 
Stephen Doyle, proprietor of Doyle and Partners in New York, admits that he began studying graphic
design because he got thrown out of his painting classes at Cooper Union and needed more credits to
graduate. “But I liked it,” he notes. “The idea of designas a storytelling medium was much more appealing than painting as a means of self-expression, especially since
my version was not being tolerated by the guys deciding pass or fail.” His fi rst job was as a designer at Esquire magazine, under his teacher Milton Glaser. “I think he hired me because he confused me with another kid, but I loved reading articles and then translating them for the reading public by making layouts that were responsive to and expressive of the content.” Thirty-fi ve years later,
Doyle is still telling stories, but now in more public ways and in a wider range of media.

Inspirations and Motivations to  BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle 

You’ve had your own studio for close to three decades. What is the key distinction between then and now?

Having run a studio for 28 years, it is interesting to observe that even though our media and processes have changed exponentially, we are still working within a conceptual sensibility that is true to our
starting point. Our work tries to hover in a zone of humanism and sparkle, never addressing vast audiences or demographics, but rather seeking to engage just one person at a time, with a wink or a gesture, or, if we’re lucky, a little moment of wonder. Having a small studio allows us to be
selective about the work we take on, and one of our mantras is to try to take on projects that only we can perfectly solve. We are less interested now in graphic design per se but chase the grail of
engagement and pleasant surprise.

Are you in fact freer now to do the projects that most appeal to you, or do you have to keep the studio fed?

Another advantage of a small studio of 10 is that we get to consciously push away from work that might lie in our comfort zone. If we have a track record of breakthrough mass-market packaging, our
instinct is to search out projects that need environmental graphics or to create a video for a conference. Th at’s what makes it worthwhile—and scary to get up every morning. Frontiers!

Inspirations and Motivations to  BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle 

Is the studio a creative expression of your sensibility or not?

Someone who I’m married to once commented that my way of practicing design was completely “selfi sh. But, um, selfi sh in a good way,” she backtracked. Pressed, she clarifi ed that I had a way of hoodwinking my clients into being “patrons”—peoplewho fi nance my explorations into art
and unwittingly sponsor my personal fulfi llment as part of the design process. Ultimately, this means that my interests and sensibilities infi ltrate the studio and the projects we take on. Aromatherapy!

You do your own art—3-D objects,— often using books. How did this come about?

The sculptures that I make from books spang from a satire that I was making about the subject of “hypertexts.” I was trying to illustrate the ridiculous notion that one message might lead to
another (via hyperlink) regardless of sequence. However, this exploration of setting text lines free of the pages that held them jumped up and bit me with the bug to set lots of ideas free from their books and to explore sentence structure in a whole new light.

Inspirations and Motivations to  BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle 

Is there a problem or not in retaining boundaries between Stephen Doyle designer and Stephen Doyle citizen?

As a designer, it’s very hard to separate work from life, travel from research, real from Memorex. It’s actually the blurring of the borders that keeps things interesting for me. When something as private as a sculpture can invade my professional work, it is thrilling. It’s the curiosities and passions that fuel a
creative life, so why wouldn’t one try to allow those to fl ourish in one’s design practice? When a paint color that my wife and I mix at home becomes a part of a color palette that others can buy, it
is gratifying. My wife and I have turned our home life inside out so that others can share our taste and style and ideas, so public and private, art and design are all woven together. One rule, however, has proved helpful: Never talk about work . . . in the bedroom.

What is your creative management style around the studio?

My motto is never to ask if it’s okay to do something. So, in the studio, the designers are encouraged to do everything they want to do. Th ere is nothing off -limits, and there is no creative ceiling for creating work or experimenting. Not all experiments see the light of day. Th ey have to work, hold
up, and communicate. We do not have any special regard for reason, if abandoning it can lead to a solution that has lift . For us, levitation is the better part of design valor.

When hiring, and I presume you do the hiring, what do you look for?

When we look for a designer, we consider the usual qualifi cations: smart portfolio and good footwear. In a small studio environment, a personality match is really critical.

Inspirations and Motivations to  BECOMING A GRAPHIC & DIGITAL DESIGNER BY Stephen Doyle 

We like designers who read the paper and whose work is an invitation to get closer. We are not wowed by style but by thoughtfulness with an occasional spark of brilliance. We try to keep our team diverse, having some members who lean toward science, and some who lean toward art. I look over shoulders a lot, and shape a direction in tandem with a designer. I help them craft the details and sharpen their intuition.

Do you see the studio as expanding or remaining constant?

It is delightful to have a small studio —we are 10, and we have been about this size for over 25 years. It is a scale that allows designers to be thoroughly involved in their projects and the execution of them, but it allows for a diverse range of clients and wide exposure to the designing arts. Too,
it allows our relationship with our clients to be intimate and earnest.

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