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Debbie Millman

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Debbie Millman
Debbie Millman.jpg
Debbie Millman (image: Chase Jarvis)
BornNovember 2, 1962
Alma materUniversity at Albany, SUNY[1]
Known forHosting the podcast Design Matters, co-founding and chairing the Masters of Branding program at the SVA, and authoring six books.

Debbie Millman is an American writer, educator, artist, curator and designer who is best known as the host of the podcast Design Matters.[2] She has authored six books, is the current President Emeritus of AIGA, chair and co-founder of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and Editorial and Creative Director of Print magazine.[3]

Early Life and Academic Career

Debbie studied at the University of Albany, SUNY for her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree. She majored in English with a minor in Russian Literature, graduating in 1983.[4] During her years there, Debbie wrote for the student newspaper, which is where she credits discovering her interest in design.


Sterling Brands

From 1995 to 2016 Millman was the President[5] of the Design Division, and Chief Marketing Officer at Sterling Brands based[6] in New York City, where she worked with many of the world's largest brands, such as Pepsi, Gillette, Colgate, Kimberly-Clark, Nestlé, and Campbells [7] [8] including the redesign of Burger King, merchandising for Star Wars and the positioning and branding of the NO MORE movement.[9] Debbie helped grow the company from 15 employees to 150, and along with her partners, sold the company to Omnicon in 2008.[4]

HOT 97

From 1993-2005 Millman was the off-staff creative director of HOT 97 in New York City, where she worked with Emmis Broadcasting General Manager Judy Ellis and Promotion Director Rocco Macri to transform the dance music radio station into the world's first hip-hop radio station. Millman created the HOT 97 logo in 1994 and then redesigned it again in 1999, which is still the logo today.[10][11]

Design Matters

In 2005, Millman founded Design Matters, regarded as the world's first design podcast[12] that now has over 300 interviews with design leaders, educators, authors and thinkers including Massimo Vignelli, Steven Heller, Marian Bantjes, Tina Roth Eisenberg, and Stefan Sagmeister, Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, Barbara Kruger, Seth Godin and more. By mid 2017, 12 years since its inception the show has passed the five million downloads per year mark.[13] The podcast received a number of awards such as the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award,[14] The People's Design Award,[15] and in 2015 iTunes named it one of the best podcasts of the year.[16]

Media Reception

Design Matters has been recognised and has been on top of the charts by a number mainstream media publications, such as Business Insider,[17] HGTV,[18] Architectural Digest[19] and was recognized as a Webby Honoree in 2018.[20]

School of Visual Arts

In 2009 Millman and Steven Heller founded the world's first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts[21] in New York City.[22] She is currently still chair of the program.[23] The school's inaugural class wrote and designed the Rockport book Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing and Sustaining Brands, and in 2013 the students designed and created branding for the Museum of Modern Art's retail program, Destination: New York. In 2015 their project was to reposition the Kappa Middle School in Harlem and in 2016 they rebranded Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation and the class of 2017 redesigned the identity of the Performance Space 122 in New York City.[24]


Millman is the President Emeritus of AIGA,[25] one of five women to hold the position in the organization's 100-year history and a past board member and treasurer of the New York Chapter. Millman is a regular keynote speaker at a variety of global educational institutions, covering topics on design and branding. In the past she has presented keynote lectures at Rotman School of Management,[26] Princeton University, Michigan Modern, the Hong Kong Design Association, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the National Museum of Serbia, Design Thinkers in Toronto, the Festival of Art and Design in Barcelona, Webstock in New Zealand, QVED in Munich, the ING Conference in Dubai, TypoBerlin, the By Design Conference in Slovakia and more.[27][28]


Millman's artwork has been exhibited at the Boston Biennale, Chicago Design Museum, Anderson University (South Carolina), School of Visual Arts, Long Island University, The Wolfsonion Museum and the Czong Institute for Contemporary Art. In the past she was an artist-in-residence at Cranbrook University, Old Dominion University and Notre Dame University, and has also conducted visual storytelling workshops at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, the University of Utah, Anderson University (South Carolina), Albuquerque Academy, the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan and the Type Directors Club in New York City.[29]


Millman is a regular contributor to a number of print media outlets, such as The New York Times,[30] New York Magazine, Print Magazine, Design Observer and Fast Company. She is currently the Editorial & Creative Director of Print.[31][32] In the past Millman has designed campaign buttons for Hillary Clinton,[33] wrapping paper and beach towels for One Kings Lane, greeting cards for Mohawk Paper and MOO Paper, as well as playing cards for DeckStarter and various others.[34][35] In 2014, she received the Type Directors Club Certificate of Typographic Excellence for her entry in TDC61,[36] 'Austin Initiative for Graphic Awesomeness' poster.[37]

From 2015 - 2017 she was the Editorial & Creative Director of Print. [38][39] Beginning in 2003 Millman was a writer for the first ever design blog Speak Up, created by Armin Vit in 2002. She was a regular contributor to the site until it ceased publication in 2009.


Debbie was involved with the creation of the NO MORE movement[40] and worked on the team to design a new visual symbol to express universal support for ending domestic violence and sexual assault. The purpose of the symbol is to raise visibility, create awareness, encourage conversation, and help break the social stigma surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault. The NO MORE movement[41] has been spearheaded by a broad coalition of funders, advocacy and service organizations, and private sector volunteers from leading corporations and media companies including Mariska Hargitay's Joyful Heart Foundation, Avon, Kimberly Clark Corporation and Verizon.[42] Millman is also on the board of the Joyful Heart Foundation and created the identity for the non-profit with her students at the School of Visual Arts.[43]


Millman co-curated conferences such as HOW DESIGN LIVE, the AIGA National Conference[44] and others.[45] Since 2013 she has curated 30 Covers, 30 Days for National November Writing Month.[46] In September 2017, she curated a show for the Museum of Design in Atlanta titled Text Me: How We Live In Language,[47][48] featuring artists and designers including Ed Ruscha, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Shepard Fairey, Neil Gaiman, Deborah Kass and Lesley Dill. Arts Atlanta called the show a bold first curation.


Millman is the author of six books.[49] Two are 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[50][51] and Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits. She is the author of two books of illustrated essays: Look Both Ways and Self-Portrait As Your Traitor. Self-Portrait As Your Traitor has been awarded a Gold Mobius,[52] a Print Typography Award, and a medal from the Art Directors Club.

Year Title Publisher ISBN
2007 How To Think Like A Great Graphic Designer Allworth Press ISBN 1581157991
2008 Essential Principles of Graphic Design Rotovision Hove ISBN 1600610471
2009 Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design HOW Books ISBN 1600613217
2011 Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits Allworth Press ISBN 1581158645
2012 Self-Portrait As Your Traitor HOW Books ISBN 1440334617
2012 Brand Bible: The Complete Guide to Building, Designing, and Sustaining Brands Rockport Publishers ISBN 159253726X

Further reading

  • Gerda Breuer, Julia Meer (ed): Women in Graphic Design, p. 515/516, 562/563, Jovis, Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-86859-153-8
  • Gomez-Palacio, Bryony, and Armin Vit. Women of design: influence and inspiration from the original trailblazers to the new groundbreakers., p. 175-177, How Books, 2008, ISBN 978-1600610851

External links


  1. ^ "Debbie Millman, B.A.'83". State University of New York at Albany. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  2. ^ "Debbie Millman". Fast Company. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  3. ^ "Debbie Millman, Author at Print Magazine". Print Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  4. ^ a b "UAlbany Magazine - University at Albany - SUNY". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  5. ^ "Interview: Debbie Millman, Sterling Brands". New Fangled. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  6. ^ "Debbie Millman on Branding Design Matters and Personal Work". Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  7. ^ "Debbie Millman Writer, Brand Consultant & Host of Design Matters". The Legacy Project. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  8. ^ "Debbie Millman". Designers and Books. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  9. ^ "Introducing Guest Bollger Debbie Millman: Design Matters". Fast Company. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  10. ^ "Millman". Crains New York. 2003-04-14. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  11. ^ "Design Observer Party: Denver, October 12". Design Observer. 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  12. ^ "Design Matters with Debbie Millman". Design Observer. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  13. ^ "Debbie Millman". Clarity. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  14. ^ "Design Matters: Live with Debbie Millman featuring Abbott Miller". DC Design Week. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  15. ^ "Debbie Millman's Design Matters Wins People's Design Award". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  16. ^ Millman, Debbie. "About the Show on". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  17. ^ "These are the best podcasts you should be listening to right now". Business Insider. 2016-04-21. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  18. ^ "10 Design Podcasts to Listen to Right Now". HGTV. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  19. ^ "The Best Architecture and Design Podcasts". Architectural Digest. 2014-12-31. Retrieved 2018-04-26.
  20. ^ "DESIGN MATTERS WITH DEBBIE MILLMAN". Webby Awards. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  21. ^ "Masters in Brand". School of Visual Arts. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  22. ^ "How Steven Heller Redefined the Design Industry". Magenta. Retrieved 2017-07-11.
  23. ^ "School of Visual Arts - MPS in Branding | Debbie Millman". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  24. ^ "School of Visual Arts - MPS in Branding | Debbie Millman". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  25. ^ "For the past twenty years, Debbie has been President of Sterling Brands and, in 2014, was named President, Chief Marketing Officer of the firm". Sappi. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  26. ^ "Events and Speaker Series". Rotman. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  27. ^ "Debbie Millman: On Rejection". Kansas City Design Week. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  28. ^ "BIO". Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  29. ^ "Visual Storytelling: A Collaborative, Interactive Workshop with Debbie Millman". The Type Directors Club. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  30. ^ "Sally Ride". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  31. ^ "DEBBIE MILLMAN: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?". Chase Jarvis. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  32. ^ "Debbie Millman". Fast Company. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  33. ^ "45 TOP DESIGNERS CREATED THE BEST BUTTONS FOR HILLARY CLINTON". Visual News. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  34. ^ "Designer Holiday Cards From Moo". How Design. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  35. ^ "Design Conversations: Debbie Millman". AIGA Philadelphia. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  36. ^ "Member of the Month: Debbie Millman - The Type Directors Club". The Type Directors Club. Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  37. ^ "UC.Prints: Debbie Millman at AIforGA". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  38. ^ "Observer: Easy Writer". Print Mag. 2008-06-01. Retrieved 2018-01-25.
  39. ^ "HELLO (AND, WELL, GOODBYE)". Print Mag. 2002-08-01.
  40. ^ "My Best Work: Debbie Millman Shares the NO MORE Project". How Design. 2012-06-12. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  41. ^ "Debbie Millman". Speakers Spotlight. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  42. ^ "The Best Thing I Ever Created: Designer Debbie Millman on No More's Visual Identity". Shutterstock. 2015-10-14. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  43. ^ "Board of Directors". Joyful Heart Foundation. Retrieved 2017-09-11.
  44. ^ "2017 AIGA Design Conference to focus on community, connection, and career journey". AIGA. 2017-03-09. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  45. ^ "20 Designers in 20 Minutes". AIGA. 2008-10-24. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  46. ^ "30 Covers in 30 Days". How Design. 2013-11-04. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  47. ^ "MODA's Text Me: How We Live in Language Public Exhibition Opening". Explore Georgia. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  48. ^ "MODA's Text Me: How We Live in Language Public Exhibition Opening". Arts Atlanta. 2017-10-03. Retrieved 2017-12-17.
  49. ^ "Debbie Millman". Designers and Books. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  50. ^ "Ms. Debbie Millman". AIGA. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  51. ^ "Books by Debbie Millman". Good Reads. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  52. ^ "SELF PORTRAIT AS YOUR TRAITOR, 2". Color Ibus. Retrieved 2018-01-25.