Finding the Right Idea: Holger Matthies Featured in Graphis Journal #378

Holger Matthies was born in 1940 in Hamburg, Germany. From 1947 to 1957, he studied in Hamburg, then from 1957 to 1961, he apprenticed in color lithography. He went back to school from 1961 to 1966 studying at the Works School of Art and Form and the University of Formative Art. By 1966, he was a freelance graphic designer. In 1994, he was appointed as a professor of visual communication at the University of Arts, Berlin. Holger has hosted workshops with students from around the world. He has also been a jury member for many international poster biennials and triennials, and his posters are in museums and collections worldwide. He is a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale), the Poster Society in New York, and the Free Akademie of Fine Arts in Hamburg.

What inspired or motivated you to have a career in design?

The greatest inspiration took place during my study time.

What is your work philosophy?

All disciplines are represented at art school. One could wander from photography and typography to fine arts and architecture, then to the printing workshop and departments of textiles and fashion, and develop an orientation or a philosophy of work.

Who is or was your greatest mentor?

During my studies, my greatest mentor was the professor who led the visual communication class, Hans Michel. Later, Hans Hillmann was my role model and remained so until his death.

What is it about design that you are most passionate about?

The enthusiasm for design arises from the work process. The feeling of happiness at having found the right idea to solve a problem is sensual and very satisfying.

Who were some of your greatest past influences?

Consciously or unconsciously, every creative person is under the influences and imprints of their environment. Early on, the functional Swiss typography inspired me; later, it was the unadjusted wildness of the Polish poster. Even now, Japanese design captivates me because of its cool aesthetics.

Who among your contemporaries today do you most admire?

Hans Hillmann, Shigeo Fukuda, Franciszek Starowieyski, and Seymour Chwast fascinate me—they all have very different personalities in style and appearance.

What would be your dream assignment?

I got my dream assignment from the cultural capital, Weimar, in 1999. 15 big advertising columns needed to be designed differently at different places in the city.

Who have been some of your favorite people or clients you have worked with? What are the most important ingredients you require from a client to do successful work?

The best clients are people who trust the designer’s professionalism.

You’ve also won many design awards. Is there one that stands out the most to you?

Without a doubt, the two gold medals I received in Warsaw for poster design, among many other awards and honors, are the most important to me.

Learn more about Holger Matthies on his website here.

To read more, preorder Journal #378 here and view the digital edition now.

Author: Graphis