Best of the Blog 2012: A Tribute to Hillman Curtis

The master graphic, web and film designer Hillman Curtis, who had such an enormous influence on the design field, was scheduled for a return appearance at this year’s HOW Design Conference. It’s a loss to all of us that Hillman passed away on April 18, after a long battle with colon cancer. He was 51. From a post on his website,

Hillman deeply loved his work, all of it — film directing, graphic design, all aspects of new media — and he especially loved his talented mentors, friends and students in these fields. His favorite topic was inspiration and he made sure to surround himself with it and find it in everything — his colleagues, his family, New York City, art, film and all of you.

Curtis’s legacy is broad; even if you don’t know of his work or never saw him speak at a design event, you’ve probably felt his influence. That’s in part because he celebrated creative professionals and the creative process. His Artist Series of short films captured the innovation and energy of some of design’s great practitioners: Paula Scher, Milton Glaser and Stefan Sagmeister among them. Gloriously, his work endures, thanks to the medium he worked in.

On Saturday, June 23 at 9:00, the time slot when Hillman Curtis had been scheduled to speak at the HOW Design Conference, his friend Debbie Millman will lead a  tribute to Curtis and his work. We hope you’ll join Debbie for that celebration.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor: Create space in your day, each day, for the next two weeks and watch one of Hillman Curtis’s Artist Series videos.

And if you’re unfamiliar with the man and his work, then start here, with this short biographical film  in which he talks about creating with limitations, about reinvention—including his own path from rock musician to gig poster designer to graphic designer to web designer to filmmaker—and about creating intimate portraits of his subjects not in ink, but in 24 frames a second.

Be a part of this tribute to Hillman Curtis by joining us at HOW Design Live.