Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Tribute to Hillman Curtis

After returning back to earth from the "clouds of design heaven" known as The HOW Live Design Conference, I sat on my living room floor, attempting to compile the information, bags and bags of goodies, and the very real inspiration and emotions I had accumulated over the past few days. But, like a child with the task at hand of tiding up their room of favorite toys scattered across the floor, I was defeated by the power these ideas and creations had over me and got lost in them all yet again. Although there is a long list of subjects and content I wish to post and share from my experience at HOW Live, there is one very important and outstanding person I wish to bring attention to.

Hillman Curtis was scheduled to return to this year's conference and speak on his mastery of graphic, web, and film design and the irrefutable influence he had on the design field. As a loss to us all, Hillman passed away on April 18th after a long battle with colon cancer at the age of 51. 

There's a good chance that you have seen some of Hillman's work, especially if you're involved in the design community. His short films, commercials, and Artist Series have all captured their subjects in a way that gives you no choice but to fall in love with the experience and put your full trust in the story of the window placed before you. Hillman saw the truth and the beauty of every moment and every person he captured. In his Artist Series, he encapsulates the most brilliant and interesting people of our design community, which include Milton Glaser, Lawrence Weiner, Paula Scher, and Stefan Sagmeister to name a few. 

In the time slot when Hillman Curtis was to speak, his friend and fellow icon of the design community, Debbie Millman, led a tribute session to Curtis and his work. I attended.

As she always does with such dignity and grace, Debbie introduced the life of Hillman and his passions for creating, friendships, colleagues, and family. We then turned our attention to the screen where many of his short films and a few from the Artist Series were played. In a matter of minutes, I had already fallen in love, cried in sorrow, and smiled in celebration. He was truly a beautiful gift to this earth and I'm honored to have been in that audience of creatives. 

The last of the films was Graphic Design Textbook: Hillman Curtis. He says something that resonated with me which was:

"Be prepared to reinvent yourself. Be prepared to go out on a limb occasionally. Be prepared to do things that you feel strongly about that maybe other people don't."

It's a strange thing to have been telling yourself something your entire life but really feel at peace with it when someone you admire says it. In many ways I've gone out on a number of limbs. I'm not easily figured out by many people, and I'm okay with that...most days, but that is what makes life worth it. That is what, as creatives especially, we must be prepared to do. Hillman lived each day doing what he felt strongly about because it was a passion; not because it was popular or made money, but because he loved it. 

So, thank you Hillman Curtis for comforting us in knowing that life is simply about love. Love what you do and those around you and everything else takes care of itself.  
Below I've included Graphic Design Textbook: Hillman Curtis as well as some of my favorite films of his. You can view more at Enjoy!

HILLMAN from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.

SHORT FILM: Bridge from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.

ARTIST SERIES/DESIGN MATTERS: Lawrence Weiner from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.

ARTIST SERIES: Stefan Sagmeister 08 from Hillman Curtis on Vimeo.
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