Michelle Mattar


Michelle Mattar is a graphic designer specialized in building and launching brands. Her work blends interdisciplinary skills in graphic design, strategy, copywriting, marketing, research and art direction. Michelle is based in New York City but works with clients globally.

After 6 years working independently to build new brands holistically, she started her own brand building house called Practice. Together with a small team, she’s continuing to take new businesses from zero to launch. Practice is an evolution of the brand building practices she cultivated as an independent, and their model and process is designed to keep her close to the work but build at scale.

Her process considers everything it takes to bring a product or service to market. Michelle believes that while graphic design is fundamental, it is not the only thing that makes a successful brand.

Her work merges design with how a brand behaves in real world challenges: so it can adapt to an ever-changing world while staying true to its core values. Michelle, and Practice, focus on building brands that live and grow, that attract talent, open dialogues, spark trends, and raise the bar for ethical commerce.

She also has a passion for ethics and started Waste Not, a searchable site of sustainable suppliers. Born from years of requiring sustainability research for consumer launches, she made the research free and accessible: because sustainability shouldn’t be a trade secret.


Looking forward to 2023, are you optimistic about the role and impact of Graphic Design and Visual Communication in Business? Culture? Causes? Have the events and disruptions of the past few years changed the role or trajectory of Graphic Design?

In 2022 we saw the rise of humans leveraging AI, and a continuation of ushering in an era of technological innovation from years prior. True, machines and software can often outperform tasks with more efficiency, but the execution lacks artistry. There’s no savoir-faire or distinctively human ability to respond to the needs of the individual. Ironically, as a technological future expands: it needs to humanize.

Having my hands in branding, marketing and creative efforts for innovative brands, I have witnessed this change and I believe that some things will remain fundamental — communication, which includes design, will continue to be one of them. It’s possible that standing apart in a highly technological future means being more human and more empathetic than ever before

Most influential graphic designer(s) or art directors(s) of the past 60 years? Of today?

Massimo Vignelli seamlessly merged artistic principles of design with real-life applications, industry needs, and commerce. He elevated the field of graphic design, and his career embodies how a designer’s mind and eye can help shape experiences, environments, and perception.

Most influential graphic design firm(s), ad agency(s), or inhouse department(s) of the past 60 years? Of today?

The work of PBS: their mission towards access is tremendous, as well as the visionary creative and art direction for some of their programs. I admire their imagination to enlist minds like Jim Henson to create a variety of accessible, joyful and inspired spaces for education, environments, and perception.

Favorite or most influential logo or branding project of the past 60 years?

I can’t say that I have a favorite branding project – but I can say that most of the work I admire most looks outside of the category for inspiration.

Favorite or most influential design project or campaign in any medium for the past 60 years?

A personal favorite of mine was the ongoing design by Tibor Kalman’s studio M&Co for Colors Magazine – a magazine “driven by the belief that diversity is positive and all cultures have equal value.” Under Tibor’s direction, the design was impactful, artistically expressive, clever, and at times even unpredictable – and delivered powerful cultural messages.

Package, poster, website, ad, publication or motion design, etc.

Patagonia’s “Don’t buy this jacket” advertisement not only persuaded consumers to think carefully about their purchasing power, but it reinforced their brand values and left a memorable visual impression.

Most influential design products, services or technology of the past 60 years?

The smartphone: having a computer in our pockets, and instant access to the internet, has created an even stronger omnipresent fabric of society. It also made a new format for receiving and sending information that heavily relies on design to help it shape the world.