Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Greatest Art Director Ever?

We can have a very long debate over who is the greatest art director to ever live. There are any number of legends who've been recognized as being pivotal to advertising, magazine, annual report, book, even web design. I'm not going to make any pronouncements, but an art director I'd worked with a few years ago, Akira Mabuchi, is so astute that he's right at the top of my list

It was just about this time a few summers ago that I'd gone out to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to photograph a story on the Steelcase corporate headquarters. It was a four day shoot and I made a lot of pictures. Mabuchi didn't speak English very well and he didn't have too much to say to me. Most of my conversation was with his colleague, Osamu Kubota, the magazine's editor (Kubota spoke English just fine). Anyway, there wasn't much direction except to discuss what I'd shoot, not how I'd shoot it.

Mabuchi mostly hung around in the background observing, taking notes, and I wasn't paying too much attention as I was busy, busy, busy. On the morning of the last shoot-day, he handed me a sheet of paper on which he'd made some sketches of what I'd shot and what he'd like to see that I hadn't shot. For a guy who never looked through the camera, he was remarkably accurate in sketching my pictures. I was so blown away that I kept the page with his sketches (sbove) and have it hanging on the wall, framed, in my office. I continue to be inspired by it.


Blogger Mark Kalan said...

The greatest art director ever was Mike Salisbury, hands down.

12:20 PM  

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