We asked more than 750 designers to name the one person who most inspires them creatively. Find out who made the list and discover some fresh sources of creative inspiration.
Even creatives with established careers need someone to look up to and help them push their work forward. As part of this year's Creative Team of the Future project, we partnered with AIGA to ask more than 750 designers to name the one person, living or dead, who most inspires them creatively. Here are 12 of the most interesting answers (in no particular order) along with some thoughts from survey respondents on why these people are so inspiring.
12 sources of creative inspiration
1. Jessica Hische, letterer and illustrator
"I love her work, and her professional story inspires me. She's done a lot of esteemed work, but she also seems accessible. That makes me feel like I have the power to push my own career in whatever direction I choose."
2. Massimo Vignelli, acclaimed graphic designer and cofounder of Vignelli Associates
"I always admired the commitment to his craft and the clarity of his work."
3. Marian Bantjes, designer, typographer, writer and illustrator
"I love the attention to detail she places on her work. I also like how she looks at problems from a new perspective and uses objects that the rest of us may not think of."
4. Allan Peters, associate creative director, Target
"I heard Allan speak at the AIGA Design Conference in Minneapolis in 2013 and loved the passion he has for his work and in sharing his work and life. He strikes me as someone who loves and lives design and that inspires me to do the same."
5. Milton Glaser, acclaimed graphic designer
"Such an incredible volume of timeless work. Always original, always inspirational."
6. Aaron Draplin, maker
"I'm not very enthusiastic about 'design fame' and don't understand admiring many designers beyond the original masters (Saul Bass, Paul Rand, Milton Glaser). But Aaron Draplin presents such an unapologetic approach to design and a real sense of being a functional designer (as opposed to a hands-off creative director) that I find him singularly inspiring."
7. My boss's boss
"My senior group manager gets creatives more than my direct manager does. She thinks of things I don't, such as re-starting my company's defunct photography network for my development. She's open – you don't have to worry about corporate politics – and is just generally inspiring."
8. Jim Henson, creator, The Muppets
"He was always pushing the envelope and developing new ideas and technology when he knew he could make something better, and incorporating old ideas when those were the best solution for the project. I've also read many good things about his management style, which I guess could best be summed up as criticize privately, praise publicly."
9. My daughter
"She sees things with a fresh look. Things have to be clear enough for a 6-year old to understand."
10. Saul Bass, iconic graphic designer
"His work has always been a creative inspiration. I feel like in another lifetime, I may have been a title designer and would've pulled a lot of inspiration from his work. It just always resonated with me."
11. Stefan Sagmeister, co-founder, Sagmeister & Walsh
"He seems humble, courageous, creative, and willing to try and not comply."
12. Debbie Millman, educator, artist, brand consultant
"Debbie Millman has been a creative inspiration as she works with more commercial brands over the years and not the classic 'design brands.' Coming from a commercial in-house team, I look up to her."
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