Sketches of Artists by the Late New Media Designer Hillman Curtis

Hill­man Cur­tis began his career in the San Fran­cis­co new wave group Mrs. Green, served as Macro­me­di­a’s design direc­tor, found­ed the design firm hill­man­cur­tis, Inc., wrote man­u­als on new media, and shot short doc­u­men­taries. He accom­plished much of note across the design pro­fes­sions before his untime­ly pass­ing last month, and these projects reveal his great affin­i­ty for like-mind­ed­ly mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary and aes­thet­i­cal­ly inclined cre­ators. He won a great deal of his inter­net fame exam­in­ing just such peo­ple in the Artist Series, a cycle of five-to-ten minute pro­files of, broad­ly speak­ing, his col­leagues. These include Mil­ton Glaser, the man behind the look of the immor­tal I Love New York cam­paign; David Car­son, art direc­tor of the nineties’ cultish­ly cov­et­ed rock mag­a­zine Ray Gun; and Mark Romanek, direc­tor of strik­ing com­mer­cials and fea­ture films like One Hour Pho­to.

At the top of this post, you’ll find Cur­tis’ Artist Series short on Daniel Libe­skind, the archi­tect over­see­ing the rebuild­ing of the World Trade Cen­ter. It exam­ines the archi­tec­t’s build­ings, his sketch­es, his meet­ings, and his ideas about the built envi­ron­ment as a tool for lib­er­a­tion rather than a “neu­tral world that con­firms all our ideas.” Ulti­mate­ly, Libe­skind asks this of his craft, his pro­fes­sion, and his world­view: “How will it car­ry peo­ple into a world that is good?” Direct­ly above is Cur­tis’ pro­file of graph­ic design­er Paula Sch­er, who talks about the speed with which she sketched the Citibank logo. The client seems to have balked at this, assum­ing that any­thing so quick­ly cre­at­ed could­n’t pos­si­bly war­rant the cost. Sch­er argues that, while it appeared to take her only a sec­ond, it real­ly took her “a sec­ond and 34 years,” “a sec­ond and every expe­ri­ence and every movie and every thing of my life that’s in my head.” Nei­ther she nor any­one else in the Artist Series sees divi­sions between their work, their life, and the rest of human­i­ty. Hill­man Cur­tis, by all accounts, lived the same way.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Pow­ers of Ten: The 1968 Doc­u­men­tary by Leg­endary Design­ers Ray and Charles Eames

Pao­la Antonel­li on Design as the Inter­face Between Progress and Human­i­ty

Clas­sic Jazz Album Cov­ers Ani­mat­ed, or the Re-Birth of Cool

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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  • Shelley says:

    Citibank does­n’t seem like much to be proud of for any rea­son, but it’s hard to think of a more pos­i­tive PR flash than “I Love New York!”

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