{inspiration} James Victore


I've always felt this treatment perfectly captures the essence of the word.
I’ve always felt this treatment perfectly captures the essence of the word.

The seemingly fearless James Victore launched his career with personal projects, he embraces DIY culture, freely gives advice to young designers and encourages us to “say no to the status quo.” He loves what he does and believes the rest of us should too—most notably, he stays true to himself and keeps it real. Another endearing quality is that James mentions him mother from time to time, my favorite advice from James Victore’s mom is “a good day starts the night before.”  

Another on of Victore’s great lessons documented in his monograph is to ask for more. In the back of his book Victore or Who Died and Made Me Boss, is a perfect example a letter from MoMA that begins with: Dear James Victore’s Mom.

James Victore is an artist, activist, author and firestarter who teaches creatives how to illuminate their individual gifts in order to achieve personal greatness. Described as “part Darth Vader, part Yoda,” James is widely known for his timely wisdom and impassioned views about design and its place in the world.

His work is represented in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the Palais du Louvre in Paris, and has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


Every Tuesday on his YouTube series Burning Questions,  James answers your questions about life, love, and work in his signature blunt and honest manner. He tells you what you don’t want to hear in a way you want to hear it.

This is a nice video from the Art Director’s club that features Chris Rubino with Victore and how their personal projects transitioned into there professional careers—DIY style.

img_0091In 2013 I had the great opportunity of taking a group of students to Syracuse University last year to attend a James Victore Lecture. He’s been called one of design’s bad boys but frankly, I found him to be super nice and really down to earth. He was promoting his book Victore or Who Died and Made Me Boss.

According to Michael Bierut from Design Observer: It sometimes seems there are two kinds of graphic designers in the world. One kind sees each project as an opportunity for self-expression, producing a body of work that bears an unmistakable mark, that is more alike than different, that is more about the maker than the message. At its best, the output of this kind of designer is personal and passionate; at worst, it’s repetitive and self-indulgent, the mark of the attention-seeking diva.
The other kind of designer attends first to the client, to the message, and to the audience. This graphic designer’s role is to be neutral and invisible, an efficient conduit between broadcaster and receiver. The best of this kind of work is devastatingly effective; the worst is anonymous and forgettable, the product of the kind of hack who gives design a bad name. Read the full story on Design Observer.
victoresuABOVE: James Victore with Travis Bradley and Nathaniel Phillips admiring the Ben Shahn mosaic “Passion for Justice” at Syracuse University. Sacco and Vanzetti happened to be on the list of people who died in Victore’s book.
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were Italian anarchists who were tried and executed for murder in 1927, becoming an international cause celébre. Shahn first dealt with the theme of Sacco and Vanzetti in a series of gouaches he created in 1931-32. Later he would return to the theme again, in prints and a cover for the August 23, 1952 issue of Nation magazine, and with a mosaic mural for Syracuse University in 1967. As art historian Alejandro Anreus points out, Shahn’s involvement with the persecution and unfair trial of the Italian anarchists went deep, “tapping his own immigrant and working-class roots, as well as his family’s socialist background.”


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