STORY BY CLAUDIA WILLIAMS
World famous artist and graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister traveled to Drake University to give ‘The Happiness Talk,’ a presentation about his about graphic design, happiness and how the two coincide with each other.
Four hundred students, staff, faculty and members of the Des Moines community attended the event and listened to the artist’s presentation in Sheslow Auditorium.
Sagmeister has been in the industry for over 30 years and has numerous international awards under his belt. He was given the National Design Award in 2005, as well as two Grammy awards.
Those Grammy awards came from his collaboration with bands such as The Rolling Stones, OK Go and Aerosmith, with whom he created album art and record designs.
With plenty of experience in his toolbox, Sagmeister had a lot of life advice to give in terms of careers, dreams and design.
The event was marketed as an exploration of the possibilities to achieve happiness as a person and as a designer. He explained how this subject matter was something that has interested him since his youth and how it influenced him throughout his career and life.
The graphic designer has been so enthralled with the subject matter of happiness that he began making a film about the topic titled “The Happy Film,” which is about his experience in the industry, as well as what he learned from creating personal bliss.
Students and graphic designers on campus were ecstatic when they found out Sagmeister was coming to campus.
Gabrielle Gaass bought his book in hopes of getting a signature and even volunteered at the event so she could get as close to her idol as possible.
“When I first found out he was coming to speak at Drake, I along with the rest of the designers I knew freaked out,” Gaass said. “This is a big deal for our campus and I knew attending would be a remarkably worth-while experience, not only for my designing, but also for me as a person trying to expand my life.”
The speech was organized and planned by Iowa’s chapter of American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA).
They collaborated with the Drake Department of Arts and Sciences who sponsored Sagmeister’s arrival, speech and experience.
Catherine Dreiss, adjunct instructor of graphic design and education director for AIGA, attended the event and worked with the arts and sciences department throughout Sagmeister’s talk.
Dreiss explained how at first, she was surprised with how little he talked about graphic design and how much he focused on happiness and his film. She later realized how his connection between the two affected her perception of Sagmeister and his happiness talk.
“He supported his discussions and his beliefs with great graphic design, so what he said was much more meaningful to the graphic design audience,” Dreiss said.
The connection between happiness and graphic design impacted students who are currently studying the artistic field and look up to Sagmeister.
Rachael Kreski, a junior graphic design major and AIGA’s Student Group President, attended the event for those very same reasons.
“As a graphic designer and Drake student, this event was a great opportunity to hear a successful professional designer speak, as well as to be given the chance to hear out his story, ” Kreski said.
Following The Happiness Talk, people who bought VIP tickets were allowed to attend an after party at Mars Café where they got to meet Sagmeister in person.
Over coffee and complimentary refreshments, Gaass met the designer and finally had her copy of his book signed by the author himself.
In terms of following her dreams as a graphic designer, Gaass was greatly influenced when she met him. He taught her to never stop trying and to put her heart into everything.
“He was extremely personable, humorous and caring of each of his fans,” Gaass said. “He connected with each of us and complimented everyone. I will definitely cherish this experience forever.”