“I have seen my share of pretentious, affected, and indeed, nasty designers, who see themselves as somehow superior to the younger, unseasoned types of people who occasionally approach them for advice: in fact, I've been meeting people like this most of my adult life. Some of them were my teachers, others my employers, and all I can say as I approach that abyss of transcendent self-awareness (as far as I can tell, the only benefit of my incipient slide into middle age) is that it was ‘absolutely’ not necessary for any of these people to treat me as a slave, or a half-wit, or a peon in their exalted, myopic universe. And yet, they did.
So how to explain people like Massimo Vignelli, who didn't know me, who had no reason to write back to me, but did? Or Bradbury Thompson, who annually treated his entire class of thirty-plus graduate students to lunch? Or, for that matter, Steve Heller, who found time from publishing a new book, say, every fifteen minutes or so, to give me my first break as a writer? …
I have heard that Milton Glaser will never accept a social invitation if it means canceling a class, because his students come first. This makes him a rock star in my book, and makes me wonder if we should start teaching ethics in design school. If charity begins at home, how can we proclaim new and progressive agendas of social change without examining ourselves, our students, our profession?”
Jessica Helfand, Partner, with William Drenttel, of Winterhouse