The August issue of Print magazine features an autobiographical essay by George Tscherny entitled “Designing a Legend,” which documents the designer’s visual influences from his childhood in 1930s Berlin, to an adulthood spent with visionaries such as fashion illustrator Carl Erickson and architect and designer George Nelson. Tscherny, responsible for SVA’s current logo and the College’s very first graphic design course, attributes his integrated aesthetic to formal and informal design education. Keen observation, attentive listening and an interest in his instructors’ brilliance shaped the two-time AIGA president early on.
From Henri Cartier-Bresson’s decisive photography, Tsherny learned subtlety: “He taught us to walk softly and carry a little camera,” Tscherny writes. From Erickson, he inculcated the value of a bold, steady hand. “[Erickson’s] drawing was notable for the confidence of the single line, which selectively stressed the essential and significant detail.” Tscherny says he learned his “most important lesson of all” from Nelson, which was to “bring no preconceived ideas to a new project.” Instructors Herschel Levit, Lester Beall and James Brooks synthesized an academic art practice education for the young designer, exposing him to the work of typographers and fine artists.
Toward the end of the essay, Tsherny reveals that he resides “at the intersection of high and low art,” which he is completely comfortable with. “For just as copy can be literature, design can be art when it reaches certain levels of originality and distinction.” To read the full article, which includes Tscherny’s visual inspirations, pick up the August issue of Print magazine.