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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: I had been in New York for about 13 years, and my parents were getting a little bit older. My wife's parents were getting a little bit older. We thought about - "Well, if we're ever going to return to California, maybe now would be the time to do it." And at the time that we were thinking about that, I didn't want to walk away from the business we developed when we were in New York. My entire professional career, at that moment, had been in New York.
And so I made a number of friends with number of people there, a couple who were just terrific designers, one is Marty Pedersen, who is now the publisher of Graphis, and Vance Jonson, who was a teacher of mine when I was at Art Center. So, we went into business as a bi-coastal office. So, we opened an office in San Francisco. My wife and I came out here. We opened the office and about two and half years later, or so, Neil Shakery joined us, so it was Jonson, Pedersen, Hinrichs and Shakery.
And it was the mid '80s and so we were interested in doing corporate annual reports and doing publications for large corporations, because there were a lot of large corporations here who were going outside, and so we hit at a very good period of time and so we did very well in a short period of time, when we arrived here. We happened to hit at the time to where there were a lot of corporations who, if they wanted really good work done, they went to New York. They didn't buy services in San Francisco.
There were some wonderful designers here, doing great things, but they were - it was a very insular society and I am not saying we completely changed that, but we did bring a different perspective, a more international perspective to what we were doing. We went into Embarcadero Center, which was probably the newest high-rise building in San Francisco at that time, and although it was a small office, it was a very professional office, as far as corporations were concerned.
We picked a place that was high profile. It made us high profile, what we did. It made us part of the corporate community. As a consequence, we were able to get a number of very large, international clients who were here, who were looking for that service in San Francisco, and so that made a big difference for us. So, Marty Pedersen, Vance, Neil, and then myself, we had a very nice ten year run of doing that. And then Pentagram came along and first talked to Marty Pedersen in Switzerland, and said, "Would you guys," meaning all of us, "like to join Pentagram." It would expand Pentagram into the US, because it had been established for six or seven years, but was really two guys, two partners.
So we - it ended up, ultimately, that only the three of us in San Francisco ended up joining. Marty wanted to buy Graphis, which he did, and so he ran that and Vance went on to run his own design firm. So the three of us in San Francisco became the San Francisco office of Pentagram. That was in 1986.
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