A Poster on Leadership, Designed by Debbie Millman

mds_debbiemillmancollection-500_1Debbie Millman is a truly extraordinary designer. For the past twenty years, Debbie has been President of Sterling Brands, where she has worked on the redesign of over 200 global brands, including projects with P&G, Colgate, Nestle, Kraft and Pepsi. Her visual essays and other impressive works (often featured on HOW and PrintMag.com) span a vast array of media and she has authored six books. We’re big fans, so you’ve probably seen her here and there on HOWdesign.com, in our magazine, and at HOW Design Live.

That’s why I’m beyond excited to show you this exclusive poster, designed and signed by Debbie Millman, of David Foster Wallace’s abridged words on leadership from his 2000 essay “Up, Simba: Seven Days on the Trail of an Anticandidate.”

You can purchase a signed print of this poster as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection (see more details below) at MyDesignShop.


The original David Foster Wallace quote in full:

The weird thing is that the word ‘leader’ itself is cliché and boring, but when you come across somebody who actually is a real leader, that person isn’t cliché or boring at all; in fact he’s sort of the opposite of cliché and boring.
Obviously, a real leader isn’t just somebody who has ideas you agree with, nor is it just somebody you happen to believe is a good guy. Think about it. A real leader is somebody who, because of his own particular power and charisma and example, is able to inspire people, with “inspire” being used here in a serious and non-cliché way. A real leader can somehow get us to do certain things that deep down we think are good and want to be able to do but usually can’t get ourselves to do on our own.

Listen to a recording of Debbie reading the passage aloud.

Want a signed print of the David Foster Wallace poster? It’s exclusively available as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection at MyDesignShop (now 55% off), which also includes the following works by Debbie:

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits

Each chapter is an extensive dialogue between Millman and a different leader in the field, with no time wasted getting to the core issues faced by all designers—and consumers. Asking questions informed deeply by her own expertise, Millman coaxes lucid, prescient answers from her interview subjects on a diverse range of topics. Get it as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection.


Z7028Print’s “Why We Buy, Why We Brand”

Debbie Millman’s Branding Secrets

In this insightful presentation, Debbie Millman takes a keen look at the influence branding has on our everyday lives, from branding ourselves and the world around us to the role branding plays in the products we buy and the way we live. Get it as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection.

Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design (eBook)

Named one of the Best Design and Architecture books of 2009 by Fast Company, Look Both Ways is a collection of fully illustrated essays on the intersection of graphic design, love, life, behavior, rituals, brands, perceptions, music, art, even physics. It is a broad compendium of living and thinking in today’s world of design by one of its most popular personalities. Get it as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection.


On the topic of visual storytelling like this, Debbie Millman told PrintMag.com:

Visual storytelling combines the narrative text of a story with creative elements to augment and enhance the traditional storytelling process. By design, it is a co-creative process resulting in an intimate, interpretive expressive technique. Visual storytelling utilizes both language and art to pass on the essence of who we are. Today, the visualization of our personal stories is an integral and essential part of the human experience. I have been exploring the art of telling a story through a unique combination of images and words all of my life. In this body of work, I have tried to investigate the ability stories have to honor the diversity and commonality of our collective human experience.

Speaking of which…

Self Portrait as Your Traitor

Debbie Millman’s hand-lettered typographic visual essays—sometimes tender, sometimes gritty, always breathtaking in its visceral candor—makes Self Portrait as Your Traitor a moving masterpiece of a singular art form that speaks to our deepest longings for beauty, honesty, and the ineffable magic of what it means to live. Get it as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection.


Here’s what out own in-house design expert Ed Roberts had to say about Self Portrait as Your Traitor:

Turning each page of this visually stunning work, you become more than a reader. You transform into an active participant in a piece of page turning performance art that chronicles the inner most thoughts and observations of Millman’s early, middle-American life.

The handcrafted art draws you into the soul of Millman, revealing her respect and undeniable love for the poetic interplay of letterforms. Millman uses felt, metallic paper, twine, graphite and crayon to express her personal (and at times graphic) feelings on humanity, culture and career.

Ed Roberts on Self Portrait as Your Traitor

You can get all of these works—including a print of the David Foster Wallace poster, signed by Debbie—as part of the Debbie Millman Ultimate Collection at MyDesignShop. The collection is currently 55% off, but only limited quantities remain. Get the collection here.

Read more about Debbie’s design process for creating visual essays at PrintMag.com.