Writing a brief summary of Debbie Millman’s career is nearly as challenging as running a 4 minute mile. Her body of work and lifelong pursuits span every cultural touchpoint you could imagine. Millman’s first dive into graphic design was with Sterling Brands, a small company of 15 people that she built into a 150 person powerhouse. During her time there, she worked with mega-brands such as Pepsi, Colgate, Burger King and Star Wars (and we are just getting started).
In 1993, Millman lent her talent as creative director of Hot 97, the first ever hip-hop radio station, designing the branding in ‘94 and ‘99. Always known for being ahead of the curve, Millman started a podcast in 2005 aptly named Design Matters, which she still hosts to this day. On her podcast, she has interviewed over 400 of the most notable designers, artists and creative thinkers.
Millman is now President Emeritus of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and chair and co-founder of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. And just for good measure, she is also a past editorial and creative director of Print magazine.
With such a storied career and masterful interviewing skills, you could imagine the anxiety of having to ask her some seriously dumb questions, but without further ado…
Q: Crayons or Markers?
Q: Favorite old school hip hop artist?
GrandMaster Flash and the Furious Five
Q: If you were in a font family, what style would you be?
Bold italic with 14 exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Q: When booking a flight, do you choose aisle or window seat?
Q: As an old school New Yorker, what do you like on your bagel?
I have two options: 1. Scallion Cream Cheese, Scottish Salmon, Onions, Capers, Tomato, Cucumbers and maybe Avocado on a toasted everything bagel 2. Whitefish salad with cucumbers. Bonus: From where? Murrays Bagels on 23rd and 8th.
Q: What is your go-to cocktail?
I am a real lightweight so I don’t drink cocktails, but I do love Pinot Grigio and Prosecco.
Q: With your recent engagement, you are in planning mode, so, wedding band or DJ?
Q: You share a birthday with David Schwimmer, Nelly and Marie Antoinette. If you had to have help blowing out your candles, who would you choose?
Q: On Wikipedia, it says you are a writer, educator, artist, curator and designer, is there something that should be added to your bio?
Host of the podcast Design Matters
Q: If you could interview someone who is not living, who would it be?
Einstein or Mark Rothko, but he might be a difficult interview.
Q: Do you have a guilty pleasure snack during the quarantine?
Q: If you had to choose a partner to quarantine with, who would you choose, Elton John or Neil DeGrasse Tyson?
Q: What was the last photo you took on your phone?
Notes to send my undergrad students from the class I taught.
Q: What time do you wake up in the morning?
I am on the West Coast, so I have to get up earlier (which kinda sucks) but I am a night owl, so left to my own devices, I would go to bed as late as possible and get up as late as possible.
Q: What are cows saying when they moo?
Q: If you are going on a long journey, which genre of novel would you rather read, Sci-fi or Romance?
Sci-Fi, I am a Sci-Fi addict.