Photo: Gerhard Kassner

Michael Bierut began his talk in a similar way to how Tony Brooks ended his: innocent and humorous. He started his presentation in Ohio Cleveland, where he grew up. Some early pictures of family and sketches in his school books lead to some first drawings of words and – essentially – his start into typography and graphic design. Encounters with publications such as Armin Hofmann’s Graphic Design Manual and Milton Glaser’s Graphic Design inspired Bierut to continue a career and life in graphic design.

His early career-decision dealt with, he swiftly moved on to The Only Important Decisions – decisions about typography it seems. The audience was taken on a journey to ten locations and ten projects that Bierut has conducted in recent years. All of these describe his fondness of making typographic decisions, be they the choice of an existing typeface, the commissioning of a custom type or laying type out in new and exciting ways. The audience travelled with him to Florida, New York City, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Jersey and other places and saw themselves inspired by signage systems, public lettering, logotype design and forensic typographic research and development. We saw clients ranging from real estate developers and newspapers to football teams and motorcycle manufacturers. We saw technical and aesthetic challenges and were captivated by Bierut’s natural ability to introduce humour into serious subjects.

As an experienced speaker Bierut managed to go through his life and ten projects in only one hour, keeping his audience captivated and interested throughout. We expected a sharp, sleek talk, similar to his appearance in Helvetica. We got it. Thanks Michael.

Text: Paulus Dreibholz, Graphic BirdWatching