One week after I graduated from college in Ohio, I moved to New York with my new wife Dorothy and began working as a design assistant at Vignelli Associates. It was 1980, and I was the lowest employee on the totem pole. Working in a design office in those days was different. I never touched a computer. As I recall, the office didn’t even have a computer. In fact, we didn’t have a fax machine.
I spent most of my days putting thinner in rubber cement and taping tissue paper over mechanical boards. Every once in a while I would get to do a mechanical myself, usually following the direction of one of the more experienced designers. I was working in New York City for a designer I idolized and I was the happiest person on earth. It so happened that we got an apartment that was three blocks-literally, a 135 second walk-from the Vignelli office. Work started at 9:30 a.m. I usually got up at around five minutes to 9 and still had time to pick up a doughnut on my way in.
Dorothy, on the other hand, had a corporate job downtown, in the World Trade Center to be precise. She had to wake up before 6 to be at work at 8. I literally slept three hours later than her every morning. Every night Dorothy would go to bed at around 10 p.m. I was still wide awake, and our apartment was so small it drove me crazy. I had a key to the office. So I got in the habit of tucking my wife in every night and going back to work to start another shift, which often would last from 10 to 3 in the morning.
This went on for four years. Anything I’ve achieved in my career I credit today to those four years. I loved working late at night. I worked on office stuff, and I worked on personal projects. I played music really loud and drank Mountain Dew. I would design anything: invitations for my friends’ parties, packaging for mix tapes, one-of-a-kind birthday cards, and freebies for non-profits.
When Massimo Vignelli noticed I had extra time during the day, he started giving me extra work. Things that would have taken two days only took one, thanks to the night shift. The more work I did, the faster I got, and the better I got. It never occurred to me to ask for overtime. 25 years later, nearing 50 with three kids (and the same wife), I can’t tell you the last time I was awake at 3 in the morning, intentionally, at least. So my advice to anyone starting a career as a designer? Stay up late while you can. It pays off.
Partner, Pentagram Design New York
Beth Cavener Stichter
We love this!
George Hearts Maria is a romantic and diverse pop up exhibition by Art Nerd New York’s, Lori Zimmer.
Lori Zimmer is the founder, writer and creative director for Art Nerd New York so we can only assume this show will be as thoughtful and lively as her articles for Art Nerd.
We are so looking forward to opening night!
Check out more about George Hearts Maria below.
In 1785 Prince George of Wales fell in love with Maria Fitzherbert, a commoner. Because their love was forbidden, they each had miniatures of their eyes painted for one another, so that they could look deep into them always- without fear of being caught by the royal family.
Although he officially married another, he was buried with his token of Maria around his neck. Eye miniatures, or Lover’s Eyes, stayed popular through Victorian times, before fading out of fashion.
On September 1st, Art Nerd Invasion and Lori Zimmer present “George Hearts Maria,” a Victorian pop-up plucked out of history and taking root in Helium Cowboy’s summer group show. The parasitic gallery takes residence on the gallery floor, amidst the summer group show. Inside the appendage-gallery is a pristine Victorian sitting room, complete with a collection of eye miniatures.
“George Hearts Maria” asks contemporary artists to pay tribute to the star crossed lovers, and reinterpret the lost art historical tradition of eye miniatures, adding a modernist skew to the once romantic art movement.