Bill Grant: “Great design is great editing”

One of the best parts about recruiting judges for the Regional Design Annual: Getting a chance to browse their brilliant archives. Today, final in a series of six judge profiles, we bring you the words and work of Bill Grant, who will be judging the South region of the RDA this year. Enter by April 1 to put your work to the test!


billgrant1Official bio: Bill Grant is president and chief creative officer of Grant Design Collaborative, and past national president of AIGA. Grant Design Collaborative’s cross-discipline work includes communication design, brand strategy, advertising, product development, branded interiors and experience design. He was named an AIGA Fellow in 2005. In 2013, Graphic Design: USA named him one of the 50 Most Influential Designers Working Today.

Grant helped write and produce the AIGA Business and Ethical Expectations for Professional Designers and chaired GAIN, the 2002 AIGA Business and Design Conference. Grant also assisted in curriculum development and attended the inaugural AIGA Harvard Business School program “Business Perspectives for Design Leaders.”

His work has been featured and honored by Print, AIGA 365 and Communication Graphics, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles, Communication Arts, ID, STEP, HOW, Graphis, Metropolis, New York Type Director’s Club, Graphic Design: USA, Graphic Design America 2, Interior Design, Interiors and IIDA Perspective, among others. Grant Design Collaborative has received multiple IIDA Creative Excellence Awards for showroom and exhibit design. Grant has also served as a judge for numerous design competitions and is a frequent speaker at international design and business conferences.

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Originally from: Dalton, GA

Path that led you to design: An interesting one! I started my career as a copywriter right out of college for a corporation. Within a year, I was promoted to brand manager of a new business segment. After working with outside agencies and design firms, I built and managed an in-house design team. I worked for the company for five years before leaving in 1989 to start my own design firm. I have had my own firm since.

Your career, in a nutshell: Since starting my own firm in 1989, I have had two different companies. Grant Design Collaborative has been in business for over 20 years. My career includes a tenure as AIGA National President, 2001-2004, and I am also an AIGA Fellow.

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Design Philosophy: Great design is great editing. As designers, it’s not what aesthetic components we add to a product, brand or organization that define great design, it’s determining the barriers that are getting in the way of communicating the essence of a product or brand. Edit the barriers, determine the strategic position and design the best solution forward.

The key to good design: Check your ego at the door, listen and keep it simple.

Moment in your life of which you’re most proud: Two: Starting my own firm in 1996 (and succeeding) and surviving the last recession.

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Cause that means the most to you: Advocating for Diversity in the design profession.

Favorite designer: Michael Bierut

Favorite typographer: Claude Garamond

Favorite artist: David Bowie

Favorite city: Charleston, SC

Biggest inspiration: My colleagues at Grant Design Collaborative

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What the South means to you: I embrace the South for its authenticity, hospitality, traditions and, most of all, the unique and unsinkable spirit, character and charm of Southerners. For me, Southerners are the most welcoming and creative people in the world.

What tends to make the South’s design unique? Overall, there tends to be a lack of pretension in the work of Southern designers. I enjoy the simplicity and functionality of the work, and I think there is an abundance of great design in the region. Also, I believe Southern designers are known for their creativity in many design disciplines, not just graphic design. We are not afraid to apply our design thinking and craft to a variety of mediums: print, digital, interiors, packaging, etc. We celebrate “drawing and coloring outside the lines!”

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Motto: Keep Learning!

Anything else: As the first AIGA president outside of NYC or San Francisco, I believe Southern design is some of the best in the country, and I continue to work to promote the talent and strategic thinking that defines our region.

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Enter the 2016 Regional Design Annual today for a chance to be featured among the country’s best design work in Print magazine! Our judges: Jessica Walsh, Gail Anderson, Timothy Goodman, Marc English, Bill Grant and Jennifer Morla.

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