10 TED Talks That Feature Great Graphic Design

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is an annual conference in Long Beach, California. Each year the world’s foremost thinkers get together to give and listen to speeches. The excellent TED website hosts over 200 of these videos and adds more each day. I try to watch at least one per day. They have broadened my mind, changed my perspective, and taught me knew ways of thinking.

TED

Here I have gathered 10 videos that feature talks by great graphic designers or feature great design in the speech itself. Enjoy.

David Carson: Design, Discovery and Humor

Great design is a never-ending journey of discovery — for which it helps to pack a healthy sense of humor. Sociologist and surfer-turned-designer David Carson walks through a gorgeous (and often quite funny) slide deck of his work and found images.

David Carson is a graphic designer best known for his innovative and experimental typography. You may have seen his work in Ray Gun. If you were studying design in the 1990s then you probably tore his designs out of magazines and hung them on your wall (like me).

Stefan Sagmeister: Yes, Design Can Make You Happy

Graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister takes the audience on a whimsical journey through moments of his life that made him happy — and notes how many of these moments have to do with good design.

Stefan Sagmeister is a graphic designer based out of NYC. He runs his own company, Sagmeister Inc. He his best known for his work on album covers for artists like Lou Reed, The Talking Heads, David Byrne, Aerosmith, and the Rolling Stones.

Stefan Sagmeister: Things I Have Learned In My Life So Far

Rockstar designer Stefan Sagmeister delivers a short, witty talk on life lessons, expressed through surprising modes of design (including … inflatable monkeys?).

Hans Rosling: Debunking Third-World Myths with the Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen

You’ve never seen data presented like this. With the drama and urgency of a sportscaster, statistics guru Hans Rosling debunks myths about the so-called “developing world.”

This video features Hans Rosling a Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institute and Director of the Gapminder Foundation. He presents beautiful information graphics to illustrate his thoughts on what’s really happening in the third world.

Paula Scher: Great Design is Serious (Not Solemn)

Paula Scher looks back at a life in design (she’s done album covers, books, the Citibank logo …) and pinpoints the moment when she started really having fun. Look for gorgeous designs and images from her legendary career.

Paula Scher is a legendary graphic designer that has been inducted into the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, received the Chrysler Design Award for Innovation in Design, and a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum. She has created many album cover designs, four of which have been nominated for a Grammy Award. Since 1991 she has been a principal at Pentagram.

Scott McCloud: Understanding Comics

In this unmissable look at the magic of comics, Scott McCloud bends the presentation format into a cartoon-like experience, where colorful diversions whiz through childhood fascinations and imagined futures that our eyes can hear and touch.

Scott McCloud’s most celebrated work is Understanding Comics, a comic about how comics work. His other works are just as inspiring. Graphic designers can learn a thing or two from his insights on how graphics, when put together in a sequence, come to life.

John Maeda: My Journey in Design, From Tofu to RISD

Designer John Maeda talks about his path from a Seattle tofu factory to the Rhode Island School of Design, where he became president in 2008. Maeda, a tireless experimenter and a witty observer, explores the crucial moment when design met computers.

John Maeda is a graphic designer and computer scientist. He was one of the very first people to use computers as a tool in graphic production. Esquire magazine named him one of the most important 21 people in the 21st century.

John Maeda: Simplicity Patterns

The MIT Media Lab’s John Maeda lives at the intersection of technology and art, a place that can get very complicated. Here he talks about paring down to basics.

Tim Brown: The Powerful Link Between Creativity and Play

At the 2008 Serious Play conference, designer Tim Brown talks about the powerful relationship between creative thinking and play — with many examples you can try at home (and one that maybe you shouldn’t).

Tim Brown is the CEO of the innovation and design firm Ideo. He understands creativity and how to bring creative thoughts out of his workers. Any graphic designer looking for new ways to get ideas will surely benefit from watching this video.

Rives: A 3-minute story of mixed emoticons

Rives — star of the Bravo special “Ironic Iconic America” — tells a typographical fairy tale that’s short and bittersweet.

Rives is a poet, storyteller, and author best known for his children’s pop-up books. He also has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and Bravo’s Ironic Iconic America. Here he tells a typographic story through emoticons.

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