An Interview with the Partners of Sagmeister & Walsh: What’s Next, Stefan’s Cold Fee
Trending: Jessica Walsh, Partner, Sagmeister & Walsh
Jessica Walsh is a designer & art director working in New York City. She is a partner at the New York based design studio Sagmeister & Walsh. She teaches at the School of Visual Arts & speaks internationally about her work.
Her work has won numerous design awards from the Type Director’s Club, Art Director’s Club, SPD, Print, and Graphis. She has received various celebrated distinctions such as Computer Art’s “Top Rising Star in Design,” an Art Director’s Club “Young Gun,” and Print’s “New Visual Artist.” Nineteen years ago, Stefan Sagmeister introduced his new design studio by mailing a nude postcard of himself to potential clients. A strategically placed black box implied his excitement. Yesterday, he dropped the black box entirely (but not the excitement), posing in the buff alongside the 25-year-old designer Jessica Walsh to announce their newly minted partnership. The firm, which included a motto that could double as a dare at the bottom of the e-mail—”We will do anything for design”—will now be called Sagmeister & Walsh. Walsh, who was one of Print‘s 2011 New Visual Artists, as well as our former associate art director, is a multidisciplinary designer who has also worked at Pentagram and freelanced for the AIGA and The New York Times.
Between fielding celebratory calls and putting some clothes on, the new partners answered a few of our questions over e-mail.
Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh announced their new partnership yesterday . . .
Congratulations, Sagmeister & Walsh! So that announcement . . . Why tell the world about your new partnership with a nude portrait of yourselves? Whose idea was that?
Stefan Sagmeister: Just a little visual quote of our studio opening announcement card designed 19 years ago, featuring just myself naked. Penis used to be bigger.
. . . riffing on the postcard that touted the firm’s founding 19 years ago.
The first thing we noticed about the announcement (really) was that Stefan had put on a pair of socks for the second photo. Do you keep a cold office?
Jessica Walsh: We just got our AC working, so it’s been on full power. It’s so humid in NYC!
SS: I’ve got cold feet.
Stefan, you’ve run an incredibly successful design firm for 19 years. Why add a partner now? And why change the name?
SS: Jessica is an abnormally talented designer who can create an idea, execute it gorgeously, explain it to a client properly, and then produce it well. As the ability for a single person to do all four on a high level is very unusual, I wanted to partner with such a person. And it seemed to be one of those rare deals where both of us can be better off, and we hope in extension also our clients and our audiences.
Will the new relationship affect the way you work?
SS: Yes, I would think so. Jessica is going to be in charge of our commercial projects, and I’m going to be running our self-authored projects. And we’ll both be involved in both.
JW: Now I can boss Stefan around more. Just kidding! Stefan answered this nicely above.
Jessica, what’s special about how you work with Stefan? What happens when the two of you sit down on a project together?
JW: Stefan is the most talented art director/designer/thinker I’ve met. He’s also incredibly nice, flexible, and fun to work with. I think we are both interested in trying to create work with good ideas where we enjoy the process as much as the end result. I feel so grateful to have spent the last few years working with him and, I’m honored that he wanted to partner with me.
Thanks to you, we have happiness on the brain. How did today’s announcement affect your happiness?
JW: I’m very happy! There has been so much positive response, and I’m looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Stefan.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the announcement portrait, here’s a short video of the photo shoot: