Episode 517 – Steven Heller

Virtual Memories Show 517:
Steven Heller

“I don’t have outside interests. I try to make design and life as holistic as possible. I don’t go out hunting or fishing, or collect stamps. I don’t have other passions that many people do have.”

Author, design guru, blogger, instructor, graphic designer and treasure Steven Heller rejoins the show to celebrate his wonderful new book, Growing Up Underground: A Memoir of Counterculture New York (Princeton Architectural Press). We get into why he was ready to dive into memoir after 200 (!) books on design, how he found his voice for this book, what it was like revisiting his life from the mid-’60s to ’70s, and how he wed his personal development with his growth as a graphic designer & art director. We also talk about his literary influence (go, Team Orwell!), the question of legacy, the artist he wishes he could have worked with in his storied career, and how he reassessed his past design work via captions in the book. Plus, we discuss AI images & the future of art direction, fascist symbology & whatever’s going on with Ye, the joy of an empty New York City, his ongoing battle between hubris & neurosis, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read Growing Up Underground: A Memoir of Counterculture New York!

(And go listen to our earlier conversations from 2018, 2019, & 2020!)

“If I can’t do something as well as I like, or think I should be able to, then there’s strength in numbers. Doing four books a year deflects the criticism of one book.”

“I think about friends — this year has been the worst — who have passed away, and what they had to show for themselves and what will remain.”

“I figured the time was right to get my few stories down.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes!

Lots of ways to follow The Virtual Memories Show! iTunes, Spotify, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TuneIn, Tumblr, and RSS!

About our Guest

Steven Heller was an art director at the New York Times for thirty-three years, originally on the Op-Ed page and for almost thirty of those years with the New York Times Book Review. Currently, he is co-chair of the SVA / NYC MFA Design / Designer as Entrepreneur program, and he writes Printmag.com’s Daily Heller column, which Wired magazine has called a “must-follow feed in the world of design.” He is the author or coauthor of two hundred books on graphic design, satiric art, and illustration. He lives in New York City.

Follow Steven on Twitter and at The Daily Heller and listen to our earlier conversations: 2018, 2019, & 2020.

Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded at Steven’s home on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 microphones feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4 digital recorder & interface. I recorded the intro and outro on a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Steven by me. It’s on my instagram.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.