Work / The Graduates 2009

Graduates 2009: Joel Stillman

California College of the Arts graduate Joel Stillman is a hugely talented designer interested in using ‘the modes of sign-relay to question and to encourage questioning of how signs reflect and effect thought’.

Turning 26 later this month Joel feels these words from First Things First Manifesto are worth reiterating…

‘We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, photographers and students who have been brought up in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable means of using our talents. …We do not advocate the abolition of high pressure consumer advertising: this is not feasible. Nor do we want to take any of the fun out of life. But we are proposing a reversal of priorities in favour of the more useful and lasting forms of communication. We hope that our society will tire of gimmick merchants, status salesmen and hidden persuaders, and that the prior call on our skills will be for worthwhile purposes. With this in mind, we propose to share our experience and opinions, and to make them available to colleagues, students and others who may be interested.’ Well said.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?


In reflection, how bad was your work in the first year?

I’m still living with the shame. Hopefully I’m better at articulating possibilities and ideas with graphic language than when I started designing.

If you could show a piece of your folio to one person, what piece would you choose, and who would you show it to?

I’d travel from 2020 back to right now and show myself my best work. But, by the rules of time travel, that would lead me to produce the exact work I brought back, and nothing more… right?

If you had your own business, who would you employ and why?

I’d employ Johnny Marr and Morrissey under the condition that they make the records they never did. I’d also employ Dieter Rams as my summer intern.

If you’ve got any left, what will you spend the last of your student loan on?

I’d be stoked to get a 72" vacuum exposure table for screen-printing.

Where will we find you in 12 months?

Probably NYC, but I’d love to keep the bridge open to San Francisco, where I live now. I just hope I’ll be waist deep into elegant solutions.