Designer, Author, Educator
Named “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company, and “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, Debbie Millman is also an author, educator, curator and host of the podcast Design Matters. Formerly president of Sterling Brands, she co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Her projects have received honors including the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, a Gold Mobius, a Print Typography Award, and a medal from the Art Directors Club. She is currently working with actor and activist Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation to eradicate sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and the rape-kit backlog.
More about the speaker
Named “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company, and “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, Debbie Millman is also an author, educator, curator and host of the podcast Design Matters.
As the founder and host of Design Matters, one of the world’s first and longest running podcasts, Millman has interviewed nearly 500 artists, designers and cultural commentators over the past 14 years. Design Matters won a 2011 Cooper Hewitt National Design Award, in 2015 Apple designated it one of the best overall podcasts on iTunes, and in 2018 the show was honored by the Webby Awards. In addition, Design Matters has been listed on over 100 “Best Podcasts” lists, including one of the best podcasts in the world by Business Insider.
The show is about how some of the world’s most creative people design the arc of their lives, and Debbie has interviewed guests including Tim Ferriss, Malcolm Gladwell, Marina Abramovic, Steven Pinker, Shepard Fairey, Laurie Anderson, Barbara Kruger, Amanda Palmer, Alain de Botton, Brene Brown, Hamilton Director Thomas Kail, and many, many more.
Debbie is the author of six books, including two collections of interviews that have extended the ethos and editorial vision of Design Matters to the printed page: How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. Both books have been published in over 10 languages. She was a writer for the world’s first design blog, Speak Up, the Editorial and Creative Director of Print Magazine and a columnist for N Magazine. She is currently working on an illustrated book for HarperCollins titled Why Design Matters, which will be published in 2020, along with and a documentary about the making of the book, produced by Adobe.
Debbie’s illustrations have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Print Magazine, and Fast Company. She is the author of two books of illustrated essays, Look Both Ways and Self-Portrait As Your Traitor; the latter was awarded a Gold Mobius, a Print Typography Award, and a medal from the Art Directors Club. Her artwork is included in the Boston Biennale, Chicago Design Museum, Anderson University, School of Visual Arts, Long Island University, The Wolfsonion Museum and the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art.
Debbie has been critic-in-residence at Cranbrook University, Old Dominion University and Notre Dame University, and has conducted visual storytelling workshops all over the world. In 2009 Debbie co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Now in its ninth year, the program has achieved international acclaim. The inaugural class wrote and designed the Rockport book Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands. In 2013 the students created branding for the Museum of Modern Art’s retail program, Destination: New York. The class of 2015 worked to reposition a Kappa Middle School in Harlem; the class of 2016 rebranded Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation; and the class of 2017 worked with Kholsa Ventures, Performance Space New York and Chobani Incubators. The class of 2018 worked with Brian Koppelman to design a logo for the television show “Billions.”
For 20 years, Debbie was the President of Sterling Brands, one of the world’s leading branding consultancies. She arrived there in 1995 when the company was two years old and had 15 employees in one office. Under her leadership, Sterling grew to 150 employees in five offices and she was instrumental in the firm’s acquisition by Omnicom in 2008. Omnicom is one of the world’s largest holding companies. While there she worked on the logo and brand identity for Burger King, Hershey’s, Haagen Dazs, Tropicana, Star Wars, and the No More movement.
Debbie is also President Emeritus of AIGA, one of five women to hold the position in the organization’s 100-year history. She is a frequent speaker on design and branding and has moderated Design Yatra in India, presented keynote lectures at Rotman School of Management, Princeton University, Michigan Modern, the Hong Kong Design Association, the Melbourne Writers Festival, Design Thinkers in Toronto, the Festival of Art and Design in Barcelona, Webstock in New Zealand, QVED in Munich, ING in Dubai, ND2C in Pakistan, PS One in China, Web Summit in Lisbon and many more. She has been a juror for competitions including Cannes Lions, The Clio awards, the One Club and many, many more. This year she will be the Jury President for the branding competition for the D&AD Awards in London.
Debbie is currently working with Law & Order SVU actor and activist Mariska Hargitay’s Joyful Heart Foundation to eradicate sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and the rape-kit backlog.