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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: Warner Communications also contacted us, and they were looking for some different, fresh advertising design group to help them with their annual report. They were involved in the motion picture, the record business, all those things, which are used to being highly paid, and you get the best talent because that's what ultimately makes the bottom line better.
I certainly understand that when I was starting in the field that there were a lot of things - I was just learning my own craft. I didn't really have much of a business perspective on what was going on. So as a consequence, I was solving things as a designer solved things and I talked to my clients as if they were also designers, or that they cared about was what I had to offer. One of the most important things that we have to offer to our clients and the reason they come back again, and again, and again, is not because you are a better designer than somebody else is.
It's because they trust you to do what is best for them. And once I understood that, it changed the way in which I talked to people. When I talk to business people, I don't talk to them about: there is really new great color that's coming out, or there is this great photographer who is doing some wonderful things. I may know that. I may want to use a person because - for various reasons, to be effective in what I'm doing, but I'm first having to solve the business problem that's been put to me.
And I certainly spend probably, even in sophisticated clients, I spend a lot of time educating them about how they can be more effective with the use of design. Even though we may have - and we will continue to educate people on a client-by-client basis, there has been a movement within the entire business community to be more aware of the value of design. And that's a real plus. The downside is, in my opinion, I don't know if you've ever heard this quote from Milton Glaser that was "We spent 20 years trying to educate the business "community about the value of design.
Now they understand the value and they think it's too valuable to be in the hands of designers." Unfortunately, that's where we are today. I find that as corporations understand that value, then they do have - they focus internally about how they can market better with design. And so a consequence, they come with solutions to the designer. Instead of saying, "Here is my problem," they are saying "Here is the solution that we have found through our research, "through the focus groups we have had, "through all the other things. These are the kinds of solutions we need to have and we would like to have you implement them." To me, it's a complete step backwards.
If they took advantage of what designers have to offer by saying "Here is our "particular problem. Here's an audience we are trying to talk to. "We are not being successful in doing that, or our competition is doing a better job. What do we need to do to make that better?" And that's the creative process. It should be something at saying "I have got a problem. How can you help me?" and let the designers do the best job for you. Warner Communications, fabulous people that way. They just said, "Here is our problem. Give me some solutions." And they were terrific in being able to evaluate those problems, evaluate those solutions that you'd give to them, and say "We think this is really right for us," but they didn't try and give us the solution for us to execute.
They let us come back to them and I think that every successful designer who is out there will tell you the same thing.
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