He is the author of over 130 books, which sit on a shelf which could easily function as its own independent design reference library. He spent over 30 years at the New York Times, many of them as the art director of the Book Review section. He has become an institution within an institution, at the School of Visual Arts, where he co-chairs four (or maybe five?) departments. He has written for virtually every design publication on the planet and still has the time to write a daily column, The Daily Heller. You’d think with all this going on that he wouldn’t have time to see some small time writer with only one book under her belt (and it wasn’t even a book, it was a deck of cards!). But he always does.
Yesterday I found out that Steve Heller had won the Design Mind National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt, the design museum of the Smithsonian. It is easily one of the greatest honors in the design industry. To retrieve the award, the winners will go to the White House and have lunch with Michelle Obama. I’m thrilled that so many of my friends are getting recognized. But I’m most excited for Steve. If I had to describe him in two words, “Design Mind” couldn’t be much more fitting. My only question to the Cooper-Hewitt is: Dude, what took you so long?
Steve’s latest book (actually, he’s probably written one in the time since I started typing this blog post) is I Heart Design: Remarkable Graphic Design Selected by Designers, Illustrators, and Critics, where he asked dozens of designers and writers to pick one piece they loved and tell him what they loved about it (including me!). This book represents not only Steve’s near-encyclopedic knowledge of design history, but also his card catalog-sized Rolodex. Yes, he can probably type faster than a court reporter, but the real reason he’s able to write all these incredible books about all these incredible designers is that he’s friends with all of them. Congrats, Steve, from every single one of us.
You can learn about the piece I picked for the book, a Sister Corita serigraph, and read the story I wrote about it, which I just happened to post yesterday. You can also watch a video of him talking about all the projects in the book, which is part of a podcast series where you can see all of Steve’s MFA lectures at the School of Visual Arts. I watch every single one, just so I can download 1/100,000,000th of his brilliance. You should, too.
Update: Also check out this Felt + Wire piece by Emily Potts about the book, also entitled “I heart Steven Heller!” Apparently, we all heart him.