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Kit Hinrichs is one of the most accomplished and respected graphic designers and illustrators of the last fifty years. A master of corporate communications and a consummate visual storyteller, he has been awarded the highest honor in his field: the AIGA Medal. Formerly a partner in the legendary design firm Pentagram, he is reinventing himself (again) with a new endeavor called Studio Hinrichs. In this Creative Inspirations documentary, Kit shares highlights of recent projects, his renowned collection of American flags and American flag memorabilia, as well as the irrefutable wisdom of one who has stayed at the top of his game for five decades.
(Music playing) Kit Hinrichs: As you will see some of this, this is where I live and so I try to put a lot of the stuff that I have kind of a obsession about, with the American flag, and I tried to bring it into my life in as many ways as I can. And it also finds its way, certainly, into my profession.
I've found that I start focusing on more unique things, one-of-a-kind things, the quilts, the Navajo weavings, the things that a single person did, I would say out of the goodness of their heart, but out of the spirit of the country. I have a friend who has a wonderful collection of flags, but he collects flags because of their historical value. They also are pretty graphically strong, but he has the flags from John F. Kennedy's limousine, when he was shot.
Now, that has great historic influence. You couldn't tell it from any other fifty-star flag that's out there. It looks exactly the same. It wouldn't make any difference to me, because there is no expression in the way in which that's created that, to me, is any different than any other manufactured flag of the period. So, I am very much involved in how it's executed, the quality of the expression. Within the collection, there is a variety of media that is used. Certainly, one of the big Americana things are quilts.
We have a quite wonderful family heirloom that my great, great, great, great aunt had sewn in 1865. That got passed down. I used to take it to show and tell at school. I am often asked about which one of the flags do I like the most or have most interest in. It is a little bit like "which one of your children do you like the most?" but that has the most emotional value to me. As I have gotten further and further into this, it's gone from being "oh, here is a few samples of things" to really being this all-inclusive, and I use the term obsession because that's what it is, to now over 5,000 pieces in the collection. And some of these pieces above here, you can see the variety of stuff, again, that you find, from beadwork to this wonderful Centennial flag, which was done in, obviously 1876, and it had no relationship whatsoever to the number of stars that are in it.
It just happens to be something that made the number. So I get a great typographic kick out of this one. I get a great flag kick out of it and it's just an interesting graphic. One thing, when I was able to find this nice doughboy, which is a weather vane. And I have only seen one of these, so I think it is a one-of-a-kind. I don't think it is a mold that was made and then replicated. So, it's a beautiful World War I piece. I don't know whether it was done in memory of someone who had fallen during that period of time, or just in support of the country during the war.
This is all buttons and ribbons and things which are really just fabulous to find, and individually are not that significant, but collectively make a very good kind of portrait of a country at a period of time. I also get into posters and banners of all kinds that there are out there. Being in the profession that also allows me to do a lot of publishing, or doing it, usually, for other people, I thought, "Well, there is an interest here to do this," so I went ahead and put together a book together with Delphine Hirasuna.
So anyway, you can see there's this great variety of stuff that gets done. It's all pretty graphically very interesting. It is everywhere. The flag is on so many things. I wasn't as interested in what was happening in a contemporary fashion, but historically - where all this kind of enthusiasm came from about the flag, because it's unique in this country. So I began looking and all of a sudden I just would find piece after piece, whether it was a quilt or a postcard or a toy soldier or whatever, they all had some link to the American flag on them.
It's been a very interesting and rewarding collection, as I have gone through.
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