Graphic Design USA – New York, NY
People To Watch In 2005

Jurek Wajdowicz
Jurek Wajdowicz began his career as a graphic artist in Lodz, Poland, where he graduated summa cum laude from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design. He came to New York to become the art director at Lubalin, Burns & Co., and in 1982 co-founded Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios, now widely recognized as one of the leading practitioners of socially responsible design. Wajdowicz and his partner, Lisa LaRochelle, have earned top honors from many prestigious design forums including the AIGA, the AR 100 Show, the British Design & Advertising Awards, the Art Directors Club and numerous major design publications. Works from the studio for The Rockefeller Foundation, Medecins Sans Frontieres, the United Nations, SMART Papers, Magnum Photos, Domtar and the International Rescue Committee are represented in the permanent collections of the U.S. Library of Congress, the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Switzerland, the Warsaw Museum of Posters and the Hamburg Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe. Wajdowicz is recognized internationally as a passionate advocate of issue-driven, photojournalistic approach to modern graphic design.

Do you feel hopeful about 2005?
As personally disappointed as I may be in the present political landscape of our country, professionally I do hope that in 2005 we can continue to work only on inspiring projects, in both the nonprofit and corporate world. As for the design field in general, I am afraid that the somberness of my answer will not fit in with, I assume, the optimistic responses Graphic Design: USA will get – I am skeptical about the way things are going. Omnipresence of banal “design solutions” that are more about styling than design. I am irritated by featherweight ideas, intellectual laziness, shameless aping of readymade solutions in the pursuit of professional success, and the uncontainable pollution of amateurish output. We try to be involved only in projects that, one hopes, do make a difference, but does graphic design really count at all when it comes to truly meaningful political or social events, or are we in a field where anything goes and nothing matters?

How and where do you find inspiration?
The answer is not so easy for me to logically explain: In trying to focus on meaningful assignments, the daily reports of the struggles facing people we work with internationally is prodding, inspiring and haunting me all at the same time. (Maybe this world is another planet’s hell, as Aldous Huxley said.) At the same time, I search for relief, counterbalance and inspiration in listening to some wonderful music. Insatiably, viscerally and without any time limits. Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Tomasz Stanko, Caetano Veloso, Dave Holland, the music of Jobim, Kenny Garrett, to name a few.

What is your workday like?
If you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, says the Chinese proverb. Paradoxically, I am a night person who with a fair amount of success adapted to demands and thrills of being a part of a busy, vital and flourishing design office. Appreciative of creative talents and enjoying loyal friendship of my associates at our studio as well as those of inspiring clients. Yet, the solitary quietness of late nights always draws me. Often working throughout. With music surrounding me, protecting the solitude.

Reprinted from Graphic Design: USA, January 2005.
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Photo: Jonas Bendiksen