Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Audio

Episode 88: Anonymous™

Anonymous is having quite a month. First Bob Woodward put out a book called Fear: Trump in the White House , informed by sources afraid to let him publish their names. Then the New York Times published an Op-Ed column by a “senior official in the Trump administration whose identity is known to us…”

But not to the rest of us.

How do designers put a face to the thing you can’t name? Michael and Jessica talk about Pablo Delcan’s illustration for the anonymous Op-Ed, as well as Michael’s 1996 illustration for a Joyce Carol Oates column about anonymous authorship .

“The classic branded anonymous figure is trying to have their cake and eat it,” Michael says.

Jessica adds:

You can't brand anonymity without effacing the actual credit of the person who is responsible for that act of authorship. At the same time, that this question of how the visual evidence of anonymity exists in the world remains, I think, by its very nature problematic. It's about authorship, it's about control, it's about ownership, it's about voice, it’s about fitting in…

Also mentioned this week:
Subscribe to The Observatory onApple Podcasts or your favorite podcast app , or follow Design Observer on Soundcloud .

Posted in: The Observatory

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

Jobs | June 16