Graphis Master Carmit Makler Haller is a visual communications designer and the owner of Carmit Design Studio. For the past two decades, she has been a leading graphic designer in the fields of consumer markets, high-tech startups, and luxury real estate. Her passion lies in poster design and typography. Carmit addresses cultural, social, and political topics with a strong and thought-provoking view. She is the recipient of worldwide prestigious awards from organizations such as Graphis and Rockport Publishing, and has taken part in international exhibitions such as The Tolerance Poster Show, What Unites Us, The International Reggae Poster Contest, Designers for Peace, and PosterPoster.org. Carmit has been a member of AIGA since 2007, and a Mentor since 2020. Originally from Israel, Carmit holds a BA in social work from Tel Aviv University and a BFA in new media from The Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She currently resides in San Francisco, California.
What inspired or motivated you to have a career in design? I didn’t plan on being a designer, but I ran into it during my studies. Having a BA in social work, my passion was for creating interactive CDs on psychology topics. That led me to a computer arts/digital media degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I had to learn design for the first time. I had no idea what it was, but I found it a challenging and fascinating area where I had to figure it out by myself. My curiosity, drive, and passion to create endless possibilities were the reasons I decided to spend the rest of my life in this field.
Who among your contemporaries today do you most admire? I like Paula Scher and Jennifer Morla for their brilliant use of typography. Their works are iconic, engaging, and full of wit. I also like Stephan Bundi, Gunter Rambow, and Yossi Lemel for their clever and impactful concepts. They can narrow down the essence of their topic into one image and one headline, which sometimes feels like a kick in the stomach.
Your passion lies in poster design and typography. What is it about these areas that makes you so passionate about them, and do they inform each other? I like to expand my scope of work in varied subjects such as political, social, ecological, and cultural issues. I have a strong say in each of them, and I find poster design is a meaningful way to communicate my voice. Sometimes, only typography will deliver the message. Other times, only imagery will do. Oftentimes, I’ll find them working alongside one another.
What role does photography play in your design work? I believe that a powerful photo can evoke one’s deepest emotions and thoughts, which is the reason I use imagery in my pieces. I prefer using stock photography because I don’t have enough professional skills in this area. The search for the perfect image can take up to several weeks: there are so many mind-blowing photos online! During this process, I’ll save some fascinating photos for later projects. Sometimes, I’ll find the exact image I’m looking for, whereas other times, I’ll find a captivating photo that may differ from what I had in mind, so I’ll recreate the sketch. It’s interesting to see how working with stock imagery can dictate the original draft. Once I purchase the photo, I’ll cut it into my layout. At this point, I’ll start editing the imagery by adding, subtracting, or changing it completely.
What advice would you give to students starting out today? Be observant and proudly modest. Try to absorb as much as possible, and be open to change. Design is an ever-changing field; the faster you learn to adapt to new disciplines, the better a designer you will become.
To learn more about Carmit Makler Haller and discover other designers, you can preorder your copy of Graphis Journal #376 at graphis.com.