How do you write a designer bio that doesn’t sound like a credentials menu? Education should probably be there: Bachelor of Fine Arts in Communication Design from Rochester Institute of Technology. Add a not-tedious but impressive client list: AEGIS, Beam Inc. Chevron, Harris Corporation, KKR, Liberty Mutual, Praxair, United Technologies. Include honors: In 2012, Bob was selected by Connecticut Creatives for “The 25 List.” Awards? Yes, quite a few, thank you very much. Roles: Husband. Father. Designer. In that order. But the meat of a bio is the outlook. Why care? Always come back to that. Bob’s unwavering compass through 35 years of every imaginable design challenge has been, in a word, audience. And that one question: Why should they care? They care when it touches them. They care when it anticipates their concerns. They care when it notches the predictable and overly safe into the terrain of admirable invention and logical thrills. Trade secrets? Love the work. Stretch every time. Trust your talented team. Leave an impression like a hand in wet cement. And sell ideas not just the gorgeous wrapping. One more: be a pleasure to work with. That really helps. Bob’s firm, SVP Partners, was founded in 1998 by Bob Vitale, Randy Smith, and Jean Page. In his community, Bob works with The Fairfield Theatre Company and Sticks for Soldiers. Done.
Looking forward to 2023, are you optimistic about the role and impact of Graphic Design and Visual Communication in Business? Culture? Causes?
I’m optimistic that the need for smart visual communications is like the need for oxygen. That won’t change. Our role as designers has been the same for decades. While technology impacted how the work got done, strong ideas expertly crafted have always been the vital ingredient. Now, as we see this disconcerting rise in misinformation and there are all sorts of questions about AI and ethics, there will be new challenges. Maybe daunting ones. No one can be sure how it will impact our profession. I think we will have to be significantly better at what we do. Machine learning will push us. But who among us isn’t accustomed to being pushed? Great work often results.
Most influential graphic designers of the past 60 years?
Too many to list so here’s a smattering: Dana Arnett, Saul Bass, Michael Bierut, James Cross, Elliott Earls, Milton Glaser, April Greiman, Rich Hollant, Alexander Isley, Tibor Kalman, Bruno Monguzzi, Paul Rand, Stefan Sagmeister, Paula Scher, Rudy VanderLans, Massimo Vignelli
Most influential graphic design firm(s), ad agency(s), or inhouse department(s) of the past 60 years?
Not a complete list by any means… Cahan & Associates, Carbone Smolan Agency, Chermayeff & Geismar, House Industries, Liska + Associates, M&Co, Nesnadny + Schwartz, Pentagram, Push Pin Studios, Vignelli Associates, VSA Partners