10 Iconic Names Every Successful Designer Should Know About

Without a doubt, being a designer means being an artist but sometimes even the most talented and well known people of art need new inspiration that could bring them some motivation for the new masterpieces. That is why today I’m going to tell you about 10 different people that had an undeniable influence on the history of design. Needles to say, there are many various kinds of design: graphic design, web design, design for covers of books, firms of albums… Still, bright ideas and simplicity are the things that unite everything! Thus, I hope that this post about the most iconic people will inspire you or even help you to create something fantastic.


Rob Janoff

Rob Janoff photo

Let’s start from Rob Janoff! Wondering why one have to know about this guy? Actually, Rob created something you can see every single day… Yep, he is the designer of Apple logo! What is more, it took only two weeks for Janoff to do the most famous image for today’s world. Needless to say, the logo has been tweaked since its first appearance in 1977 (at ad agency, called Regis McKenna) but the image still has its most remarkable features. I mean, longevity and, of course, simplicity. Many years ago Rob said that having the idea of such an unusual logo as an apple with a bite taken out of it was pretty logical. Rob called it a real no-brainer and added: “If you have a computer named after a piece of fruit, maybe the image should look like the fruit? So I sat for a couple of weeks and drew silhouettes of apples.” Sounds more than simple, doesn’t it? I have always thought that the most fashionable things are the simple ones, so here we can see the gorgeous results of such strategy. What else is interesting about the Apple logo? Well, take a look at the next Rob’s quote: “Bite is also a computer term. Wow, that was a happy accident. At that point I thought ‘this is going to have a wink and a nod with it, and give it personality”. Obviously, Janoff is talking about bytes but what a cool play of words and associations!

So, here you can see the first official variant of Apple logo that is similar to the current one. I think one may be surprised by these bright colored stripes, if they have never read about the history of the company before. To make things easier, keep in mind that Apple was the first colored pc, which, by the way, was created in old good 70s. Here is what Rob says about the first variant of the logo: “The big deal about the Apple II was that it was the only computer that reproduced color images on the monitor, and it was the only computer that you could plug into your home color TV. Also, a lot of it had to do with the aesthetic origins of both Steve [Jobs] and I, which was a kind of hippy aesthetic and The Beatles and Yellow Submarine.”


Susan Kare

Susan Kare desigh

Here is another famous name related to Apple’s design! I’m sure you saw Kare’s works many times, even if you have never heard this name before, as in the 1980s she made a lot of the iconic interface elements for the Apple Macintosh. For example, the Lasso, Trash Can, the Happy and Sad Macs, etc. Furthermore, Susan Kare is also the person, which created popular font families (such as: Geneva, Monaco or Chicago) and designed a huge amount of various icons for a range of global brands. Would you like to figure out how does a world class icon look? In this case, just view the designs of Facebook, Apple, Paypal or Microsoft. Susan says that the great icons should be as efficient and easily comprehended as a road sign, free of any extraneous details that could confuse users. Well, I think that her works are able to illustrate just what that looks like in practice.


Peter Saville

Peter Saville photo

Being an old fan of Joy Division, I couldn’t forget about the next name! To begin with, Peter Saville was born in Manchester and now is mainly known for the marvelous postmodern record sleeve designs that he created for the artists, who worked with famous Factory Records, so the appearance of such outstanding compositions or albums as Transmission, Closer and Unknown Pleasures are the results of his work. Have you ever seen the amazing design oh these records? Without a doubt, they are full of grace and minimalism. Besides, Peter also prefers mystery, what became a nice addition to his works. Such as the cover of Blue Monday (the pic of flowers below) written by New Order (the band made by Joy Division players after their frontman’s death) and, of course, both JD albums. He was okay about designing the sleeves without its name as well as the band’s name on the first page. “This was the first and only time that the band gave me something that they’d like for a cover. I went to see Rob Gretton, who managed them, and he gave me a folder of material, which contained the wave image from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy. …the wave pattern was so appropriate. It was from CP 1919, the first pulsar… And it’s both technical and sensual. It’s tight, like Stephen Morris’ drumming, but also fluid: lots of people think it’s a heart bit. Having the title on the front just didn’t seem necessary. It was the post-punk moment and we were against overblown stardom. The band didn’t want to be pop stars,” – Peter Saville about the creation of Unknown Pleasures’ cover.

His amazing sleeve work spans 5 decades, so today Peter Saville is one of the most respectable and prolific record designers of all the time. To continue, his work didn’t stop at sleeve design. More than 13 years ago Peter became creative designer of the City of Manchester, so during this period he has also worked with the fashion’s elite (which includes such names as Stella McCartney and Jil Sander) and even created the England football home kit in 2010. “The red and white thing has been entirely marginalised by one kind of person. It’s synonymous with an attitude that is naive, xenophobic, bullying and self-marginalising. I thought, that’s not reflective of the team, or football, or of the nation at all. But it turns out the market for those shirts are those bloody-minded xenophobic individuals with the shaved heads. When it came out, they did not like it. They did not like it at all.” – said Saville in 2013. Today Peter is 61 and he is working with new Calvin Klein logo.


Stanley Donwood

Stanley Donwood design

So, take a look at the next name that is also related to the world of music and, by the way, one of my favorite bands! Are you ready to get it? First of all, Stanley Donwood is an English graphic designer, writer and artist, which is best known for his designs for Radiohead. Actually, Stanley created not only the covers for their album “Amnesiac” but also some arts and posters.
Below is Santa Monica by Stanley Donwood, made in 2003.

 Stanley Donwood design


Jonathan Barnbrook

Continuing the music theme, I’m also a big fan of Bowie, so here is the next name for you to be remembered. Today Jonathan Barnbrook is famous because of his work as a David Bowie’s latter career go-to designer but the gorgeous minimalistic appearance of Blackstar (Bowie’s last album) is not the only fantastic thing that was created by Barnbrook. So, what was before Bowie? Well, firstly Jonathan was best known as the creator of his own influential type design. I’m sure you have heard about Exocer (it was also used in well known FPS video game, called Diablo) that became the most pirated web font after its first appearance in 1991. All in all, the VirusFonts designed by Jonathan developed during the next 20 years and introduced to the web audience such popular contemporary examples as Tourette and Bastard.

Tourette is based on an early 19th century slab serif form. Having Tourette’s means that people move outside an agreed code of language… That’s what I was trying to say in Tourette. There are swear words that are banned, but it’s necessary that they appear in language as well, because we can’t calibrate it otherwise. And I do like swearing” – said Barnbrook in 2014.

Jonathan Barnbrook-design

Talking about our days, just take a closer cool at the charming and easy concept of Blackstar! Needless to say, it is as good as the Bowie’s record by itself. “The point behind the lengthy explanation then was just to put into context what was quite a difficult cover for many people to accept,” says Barnbrook about Blackstar, which marked singer’s return to releasing music after long 10 years. He continued: “Also, I wanted do graphic design a bit of a wider service by showing that design is very much a conceptual process, not just a commercial one. There isn’t enough clear explanation of work by designers, not about why they did such a nice branding job, but the larger cultural and conceptual issues that designers do face when sitting down to do their work.”

To finish with, here in my favorite Barnbrook’s quote that literally explains everything about the modern design and art at all: “Nowadays, however, we are assaulted by thousands of images of different ideologies everyday – and the only way to break through this is with simplicity and clarity. I don’t mean ‘simple’ as in ‘legible’ – because something simple can still be open to interpretation – but an aesthetic that is very bold and without decoration.”


Debbie Millman

Debbie is a modern designer, educator, author, strategist and the owner of the popular podcast, called Design Matters. She has worked with more than 200 of the top brands, so today Debbie is an awesome speaker on design and branding and the President Emeritus of AIGA, named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA. Below you can see her cover design for Print Magazine’s regional Design Annual.


George Lois

George Lois

“When I create an image, I want people to take a step back in awe when they see it for the first time. I want them to be taken back first by the strength of the image, then by the meaning of the content. This makes people understand what’s special about a product or how exciting and interesting a magazine is. Another one of my strongest skills is making something memorable. If something is memorable it stays in the consciousness and that helps sales,” – in 2014 said George Lois, one of the most successful magazine designers, who is a real rebel known for his ability to surprise people. Naturally, from 1962 to 1972 he designed a lot of notable and controversial covers for Esquire that today are called the most iconic magazine covers in history. We all know the screaming Esquire cover with Muhammed Ali, made in April 1968 by Lois.


Saul Bass

“When we were growing up and seeing movies, we came to recognize Saul’s designs, and I remember the excitement they generated within us!” – says director Martin Scorcese about the Bass’ creativity. So, Saul Bass is certainly the most important name of the last century, when we are talking about the world of graphic design. Actually, his work included a lot of things: logos, poster designs, graphic designs, movie titles, etc. I guess the most iconic Bass’ work is the opening sequence for incredible Hitchcock’s Psycho. To continue, he is also knows as a logo designer, who worked with Minolta, Kleenex, AT&T, United Airlines , etc. Still, Bass enjoyed being a graphic designer and worked in this sphere during 5 decades and stopped only in 1996, after his death. His late works’ list has the next Scorcese’s movies: Casino and Goodfellas.

“I had an idea of what I wanted for the [Goodfellas] titles, but couldn’t quite get it. Someone suggested Saul, and my reaction was: ‘Do we dare?’ After all, this was the man who designed the title sequences for Vertigo, Psycho, Anatomy of a Murder… and so many other pictures that defined movies and moviegoing for me… They made the picture instantly special. And they didn’t stand apart from the movie, they drew you into it, instantly. Because, putting it very simply, Saul was a great film-maker. He would look at the film in question, and he would understand the rhythm, the structure, the mood – he would penetrate the heart of the movie and find its secret,” – the director reflects on Saul Bass’ genius.


David Braun

David is CEO and co-founder of the oldest website template developer, called TemplateMonster that is famous because of its marvelous website themes. To make things easier, these awesome templates are professional sets of the ready-made pages that were made and diligently designed by TM in order to assist one in the process of a successful website building. In a word, they bring people a chance to create a desired and long awaited sites just out-of-the-box. For today TM has more than 60 thousands of easy-in-use templates that are popular all around the world. 


“Almost 15 years ago I used to work in a web design studio. The company wasn’t mine, but I came on its start and became one of the first workers of our team, which, by the way, included less than 10 people. First of all, it was pretty hard to work with such a big amount of orders when there were only several people, so I thought about selling some ready-made and pre-packed product, but had no idea about what could it be. Later I saw that one of our designers did his job unbelievably quickly. I mean, gee, he really made a huge list of orders every day! In the end, that guy told me a secret of his productivity. It was about the library of ready-made elements that he made in Photoshop and used for the fast creation of website layouts. As it was already said, I knew nothing about internet business, so have never heard about the definition or using of website templates. Well, (smiles) I found it more than interesting. For the first time we tried to build some ready-to-use themes and sell them as a Photoshop files. There were only 3 categories: gold, silver and bronze. It took place in 2002 and we did have a rivalry, but the templates our designer painted were more beautiful than ones that were proposed by 4emplates.com and we have no fear.” – says David in his recent interview.
That is how TM’s templates looked in 2007.

Templatemonster theme 2002
And that is how they look today. The company works with different popular platforms and can literally propose you anything. Fox example, you can easily find on their website such selections as travel WordPress themes, photography WordPress themes, or consultng WordPress themes etc. As you can see, there is nothing impossible for a modern person!
Flowers wordpress theme



Chip Kidd

Chip Kidd

Another name you should know about is Chip Kidd. He is a great designer living in New York and mainly known for his eye-catching book jackets made for publishing house Alfred A. Knopf. Besides, Chip worked with such writers as Neil Gaiman, (during a big period) James Elroy and Michael Crichton.
“When trying to recreate one of these creatures, all anyone has to go on is bones, right? So that was the starting point… Not only was the drawing integrated into the movie poster, it became the logo in the film for the park itself. I think it’s safe to say that the Jurassic Park T-Rex became one of the most recognizable logos of the 1990s,” – in 2005 said Chip Kidd about his iconic cover for Jurassic Park.

 Jurassic Park.

These were all the names for today. Let me know what you think about the future of design and who is your personal hero? Mine is definitely Peter Saville! Have something to say? Don’t hesitate to leave your opinion in Twitter, Google+ or Facebook, as I’m always happy to hear from you! What is more, I would like to write another article dedicated to the famous designers, so let me know if this one gave you the needed inspiration.

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