Seven Questions for Stefan Bucher


Besides being one of the nicest designers on the block, Stefan Bucher has suddenly become one of the most popular. While minding his own business at his firm, 344 Design, Bucher embarked on an experiment called Daily Monster, which not only celebrates its one-year anniversary today, come February, it will also be a book. This month he’s also putting the final touches on the products for the Echo Park Time Travel Mart, the latest 826 retail establishment, which will open December 15. Luckily, he had a few minutes between monsters and time travel to answer our questions…

1. What’s the first thing(s) you read in the morning?

I usually go to bed around 3 or 4AM, so technically the first thing I read every morning is the New York Times e-mail digest that tends to roll in around 1AM. I follow that by catching up on Russell Davies and Last Night on ER. Once I actually manage to crawl into bed, I usually read a New Yorker article or two before I turn off the light.

Once I wake up again, I actually really look forward to going through my stack of e-mails, because there is always something new and fun and exciting in there.

2. Last movie you saw?

The last movie I saw was Elizabeth: The Golden Years. I was in Seattle to give a talk the next day, but I had the night off. The night before out-of-town talks is as close as I come to complete relaxation. The files are done, I’m away from the office, nobody expects me to do anything other than show up the next morning. It’s how I used to feel during summer vacation in high school. As beautiful as Seattle is, I just had such a longing to go see a movie, something sprawling and epic that would be so much better on the big screen. So I walked from my hotel to the theater, got myself a hotdog, a pretzel, and some M&Ms and let it all wash over me. It’s a fun movie, too—both gorgeous to look at and satisfyingly soapy. That was one of the nicest nights I’ve had in a while. Thank you, Shekhar Kapur.

3. Best/most memorable design/designer-related encounter?

Earlier this year I had the great honor of designing the catalog for David Hockney‘s new show of paintings “The East Yorkshire Landscape.” In the process I got to present the design to Mr. Hockney at his Los Angeles home. I’ve been a huge fan of his work for years, as well as of his writing. I was trying to figure out how to steer the conversation towards his book Secret Knowledge about the use of optics in Renaissance painting without coming off as a Trekkie (which I also kind of am, but that’s beside the point.) As it turned out, I didn’t have to do anything. Within minutes he started telling me about his latest findings.

It’s rare that you get to meet one of your heroes and have them exceed your expectations. It’s even better when you get to meet them not as a fan, but as part of your work.

Along those same lines, I visited Stefan Sagmeister‘s studio in the spring of 1999 and he was such a kind and gracious host. He must’ve spent an hour talking with me, when I had nothing more to offer than wide-eyed enthusiasm. His kindness has always stuck with me. On that visit I also met his then apprentice Hjalti Karlsson, which led to a long friendship with both Jan Wilker and Hjalti, which led to my first book [All Access: The Making of Thirty Extraordinary Graphic Designers] which led to… everything else.

4. Proudest design moment?

I graduated from college just about 11 years ago. Ever since that day I’ve always been able to sustain myself with my design and illustration work. That’s my proudest moment, bar none.

5. What’s the weirdest/awesomest thing that’s happened as a result of the Monsters?

The monsters came directly out of a dark time in my life, but they’re the seed of so much good that’s been happening to me. I keep meeting lovely people through the site, starting with the amazing authors that contributed stories to the blog during the initial 100 Daily Monsters, and the artists that are now creating brilliant Open Source Monsters. I’m still surprised at the range of folks that have given of their time and enthusiasm. Other designers and illustrators were first, of course. Parents are making drawings with their kids, teachers are assigning monsters both in art and writing classes. One of the authors is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. Now, with the book on the horizon, I’m giving talks and workshops about the monsters, and I’m getting to meet a whole new group of cool people that way.

I’ve always been a square peg, so it’s a very happy surprise to get so much positive energy from everybody. The community that has sprung up around the monsters is far and away the best thing I’ve ever been a part of.

6. This holiday season, I’m giving…

Hugs and kisses. And Maira Kalman‘s The Principles of Uncertainty. And copies of I Am America (And So Can You). And Al & Paul’s Butta-Bing toffee. And copies of Patton Oswalt‘s Werewolves & Lollipops. And some homemade things, too. But mostly hugs and kisses.

7. This holiday season, I’m hoping to get…

Hugs and kisses.