The body is a canvas which can express oneself very well.
Have you ever written a memo on your palm? If so, you will not be so surprised at Stefan Sagmeister’s poster on his body. However, if you look at the poster more closely, the red text on his body is not written by red pen. Sagmeister gave an X-acto knife to his assistant and let him carve the text on Sagmeister’s NAKED body. The poster, which was designed in 1999 for American Institute of Graphic Arts, was an icon of the 1990’s and one of the most shocking posters. Stefan Sagmeister, who is a man in the poster, has been evaluated as the most progressive designer now in New York. He not only used his body to carry out artworks but also sacrificed his body and used himself as a design. He grew fat to show the danger of instant food and used his face in his design work. In this way, he used his body very freely like a canvas. There are many art genres, which use one’s body for art, but Sagmeister is the first artist to really carve text on his own body. He said it was extremely painful. Sagmeister became a poster and a living history. That creativeness is his biggest strength. Sometimes he seems like a crazy person, but his design has the warmth of humanism. He wants his design to touch peoples’ hearts. In his design, there is a human Stefan Sagmeister, not a designer Stefan Sagmeister.
- born in 1962, in Bregenz, Austria
- Major in Graphic Design at University of Applied Arts Vienna
- Master’s degree in Pratt Institute in New York
- Creative business and management at International Graphic company and advertisement agency
- Stefan Sagmeister & Walsy Design company
“I am mostly concerned with design that has the ability to touch the viewer’s heart. We see so much professionally done and well executed graphic design around us, beautifully illustrated and masterfully photographed, nevertheless, almost all of it leaves me cold. There is just so much fluff; well produced, tongue-in cheek, pretty fluff. Nothing that moves you, nothing to think about, some is informing, but still all fluff.”
Before you enter the exhibition hall, you can see a monkey, which is in the Seojong Center for the performing arts. You might ask why the monkey is up there. That is one of the pieces of Sagmeister’s work. You usually see the exhibition after entering the hall, but Sagmeister placed the monkey on the building. This idea shows his creativeness and open-mindedness. The monkey is a piece of his exhibition in Scotland. Six monkeys are in six cities, and each monkey has a word on its body. Putting the words together makes one sentence: 'Everybody always thinks they are right'. If you want to know more about his exhibition, just step into the exhibition hall.
Section 1 / SELLING CULTURE
Culture acts as a very important motivation for Sagmeister to grow as a designer.
He wants to design album jackets of his favorite musicians so he made the Stefan Sagmeister Company. This very simple motive made Stefan Sagmeister present. In section 1, you can see the exhibition which related to the culture project. You can find the album jacket of Talking heads who received The Grammy award twice, David Byrne, Brian Peter George Eno, the works of Mariko Mori, Cai Guo-Qiang, and so on.
Section 2/ SELLING CORPORATIONS
Advertisement you see everyday can change your thinking. It’s the hidden power of design.
Before you enter the real exhibition, you can see the car. The car is a KIA which is very familiar to us. The car is just one of his corporation advertisements. In section 2, you can see a lot of his works with multinational corporations like Levi’s, Standard Chartered, Adobe, and so on. The corporation advertisements are also filled with his advertisement philosophy. Even in corporation projects, he thinks about the essence and meaning of things, he links corporations and customers. In these procedures, he doesn’t forget his own identity. Especially, ads for Levi’s surprise the viewers. When he was offered the chance to create advertisements for Levi’s, he untied all of threads of a pair of Levi’s jeans. It was very simple work, but no one thought of it before. His unique idea surprised us once again. His ads are not only for selling, but also has an intrinsic value as fine art. We can be touched by his special ideas.
Section 3/ SELLING MY FRIENDS
Design can make you happy.
He wants to make many people happy in his design work. Of the many viewers, corporations, and other people, maybe the people he wants make happiest are his friends. In section 3, there are an invitation for his friend’s wedding and a collection brochure of Any Kuan, Sagmeister’s ex-girl friend. You might envy that they are Sagmeister’s friends. He make a gift his most valuable designs to his friends including his love for them. Many people praise him and many corporations want to join hands with him. However, his happiest moment is the moment in which his design can make a person happy. And when that person is a person he loves, he is the happiest designer in the world. Seeing this, we can know that he is a really warm designer.
Section 4/ SELLING MYSELF
I like the fact that design links with the viewers.
Representative works of Stefan Sagmeister are mostly in section 4 including the poster, which was introduced in the first paragraph. In section 4, there are exhibition posters, his name card, and sketchbooks, which express Sagmeister himself. In his sketchbook, you can see him thinking about designs very actively. He said, “I like the fact that design is not art, it’s the typical works together with others. Design has to be correct, and links directly with our life. I pursue the design, which is near with our life and us. That is the design which is close to the person.” In addition, you can also see his recent projects, banana wall and coin project. For the coin project, 250,000 coins were installed in Amsterdam Square. This can show you his message, which he wants to express by design. He made a banana wall with real bananas. At first, a not yet ripe banana is green, and then a ripened banana becomes yellow, so you can read the message “Self-confidence produces fine results”. As time goes, the green bananas become yellow, and yellow bananas become brown, so the message returns again. His coin project also shows the message “obsessions make my life worse and my work better”. Banana wall disappeared because of the changing color of the bananas, and the coin project also did because people took the coins and the police removed the works. If the works disappeared, that disappearing also has meaning in art. This is also individuality of Sagmeister’s design.
If you have been worked hard, Leave!
Stefan Sagmeister gave some lectures at TED. In his lecture, you can find his secret, which can made him so creative. He said the origin of his creativeness is his one-year leave. He takes a vacation one year for every seven years. 25 years in our life is for learning, and 40 years are for working, and 15 years are for retirement. He wants to use that 15 years during his working life. He believes this leave can give him real satisfaction, and he said it was really happy time. Looking at the long term, it was also very successful economically. That one year gave him many ideas, and he could look himself. He said, all of his works in seven years come from that one-year leave. We live in a competitative society so we don’t have time to take a break. However, he highlights the importance of relaxing time. One year is too long for us because we are busy, but it is true that we have to have some time to relax and look at ourselves.
Yes! Design really can make you happy.
After you see all the exhibitions, look at the monkey on the building once again. Different from your first consideration, you can feel his creativeness and unique thinking. Not just simply pursuing objective sales or technical design, he always tries to give a warm message, which is human to human. Why not fall in love with his design? If you love his design, maybe you can be happy. Design, really can make you happy.
2012. 9. 22 ~ 2012. 11. 25
Closed every Monday
AM 11:00 ~ PM 8 :00 (enter before PM 7: 30)
Seojong Center for the Performing Arts
Adults: 12,000 won (discount 1,000 won for university students) < 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >