Design Inspiration: Who is Burkey Belser?

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In graphic design, it is odd to have a work so etched into the American framework that it is perhaps bigger than the designer who created it. That seems to be the case for American graphic designer Burkey Belser. In 1978, Belser launched an agency with his wife, called Greenfield Belser. One of their first assignments was to create the Energy Guide, which translated into the now familiar bright yellow and black designed sticker on our household appliances. The initial project covered only 13 household products as designated under the National Energy Conservation and Policy Act of 1978.

More 200px-US_Nutritional_Fact_Label.svgthan a decade later, FDA Commissioner, David Kessler, and his staff reached out to Belser again, this time to design a Nutrition Facts label for American food packaging.

The challenge was unprecedented but Belser agreed to do it. He sorted through hundreds of pages of regulations, and thousands of rules and laws pertaining to the initiative, while also ensuring that the right information got in front of consumers.

Lastly, the labels needed to be understood. The mandate was a serious one for Commissioner Kessler, but he was unable to get the funding. Belser agreed to do it pro bono, earning him a  Presidential Design Award from President Bill Clinton. Belser would later also design the Drug Facts panel on medicines.

Belser has been a recipient of both a HOW and Print award as well as numerous others. He acknowledges the importance earning honors for his teams. Posted on the Greenfield Belser site under awards, he states:

“A client once remarked, “You designers give yourselves a lot of awards, don’t you?” It’s true; awards are an industry addiction for those who care more about fame than riches. Greenfield/Belser has won hundreds of awards during the past 25 years including Best of Show repeatedly. We’ve got so many crystal trophies we could be a high school. New awards go into file folders and rarely make it to a frame. But design awards do have this singular merit: they represent confirmation from your peers of the excellence of your work.”

If you’re looking for confirmation of the excellence of your work, consider entering as many competitions as possible. As the design industry continues to grow, standing out as a designer is becoming increasingly important. Consider entering this year’s HOW International Design Awards & Competition. It’s a great way to get your work internationally known as well as measure it against a global community. Deadline for entries is September 13th. Act now.


Burkey Belser is a recipient of several HOW and Print awards. He advocates entering competitions to earn recognition as well as peer-to-peer connections. On Thursday, September 5th at 2pm ET, he will provide an overview of his work on these labels and his work since then, as well as what competitions did for his career and that of his agency. Space is limited so sign up today here. Join Us.

HOWIDBrought to you by HOW International Design Awards

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