​Steven Heller

Think about the project in the real world

Steven Heller
Heller Books
MFA Designer as Author

2007 Judge

Steven is the author of more than 120 books on design and popular culture. He writes the Daily Heller blog for PRINT magazine. And he is a recipient of the AIGA Medal for Lifetime Achievement. Steven was a 2007 judge for Ideas that Matter.

“I’m co-chair, with Lita Talarico, of the MFA Designer as Author Program at SVA. Our program requires students to create something — and it can be a tangible product — that comes out of their own interests and ideas but can be produced. It has to be real and many students take their projects through a complete product life cycle. We teach students to think about design as a way of solving problems not making things pretty.

Lita and I encourage our students to apply for two programs in the design community — the Adobe Student Awards and the Sappi Ideas that Matter grant (if their thesis fits the criteria). Each year at least one student wins a grant. The process of applying for the grant and taking their ideas from concept to production to implementation out in the real world is tangible proof of the effect of their education and frankly makes me quite proud.

When I was a judge I was excited to see that the SVA student applicants — building on their thesis ideas — really understood the importance of a comprehensive plan, but I was also really impressed with other applications that took an idea from start to finish. Being a judge gave me an appreciation for the kind of work that clears all the hurdles. And as someone who looks at a lot of design work in the process of running a design program, writing about design, and judging design competitions I was stunned by the clearly thought through simplicity that winning entries used to communicate messages and to change the world.”

Think about design as a way of solving problems, not making things pretty.
​Steven Heller