[Sean Adams] This is the plot of a classic ’30s Hollywood movie: The young actor toils away learning his craft, then one night gets that big break and becomes a star. Unfortunately, the design world doesn’t work this way. It’s not enough to have one big hit — a career is built on a series of successes. Stefan Bucher, however, combines the grit and the glam. He’s based his career on a stream of fantastic design solutions … and he had his big break at the 2009 AIGA Biennial Conference. All of a sudden, everyone was talking about the “two Stefans.” Of course one was Sagmeister, and the other Bucher.
I hope I’d have the discipline and the balls to learn an instrument and write music. Music is more important to me than anything — it’s what truly makes me happy. Which is why I’ve always been too scared to pursue it. I’d be too horrified to suck at it. But I hope I’ll get over that eventually.
Q2 Who was the biggest influence in your life, good or bad?
Beyond my parents, you mean? I’ve been lucky to have many brilliant teachers all through school in Germany and college here in California, but one stands out: Norm Schureman was one of my drawing teachers at Art Center. When I was an advertising student back in 1996 he taught one of the first entertainment design classes at the school. The work that his students turned out term after term was and remains absolutely incredible — amazing drawings of fantastic and often funny characters and environments, all beautifully executed. But this class was in the product design department, and ad students were notorious for their lack of drawing skills, so Norm made me start with VISCOM 6, an advanced drawing class for product designers that led into his entertainment design class. He also made me audition for it. Luckily, he liked what I showed him, and the time I spent in his class taught me more than any other class I’ve ever taken.
[Above, cover design for STEP magazine by Stefan Bucher, in the grip of Mad Men's Bryan Batt]
In design and advertising classes we were told that no idea is good enough unless you’ve spent weeks thinking about The Concept. If no blood is trickling from your forehead you didn’t think hard enough. Joy was not high on the list on our end of the building. Norm was a hard taskmaster on the drawing side of things and knew how to push an idea, but he approached concepts differently: How do you make it more interesting? How do you make it more fun? How do you create a world around your idea? How does that world shape the character?
That’s how he thought about it. He taught me how to enjoy having ideas. Which opened a whole new world for me. I remember drawing the first of my hybrid animals in his class and thinking “This is FUN! … I must be doing it wrong.” It took Norm a while to set me straight, but he did it. He also took one look at the Wart-Hen, whipped out his pen, and added that wart-covered egg.
He was a truly kind man, generous with his time and encouragement, both while he was my teacher and in the years since. He was also, I think, the least neurotic person I’ve ever met. If ever I needed a role model for something….
I don’t think the Daily Monsters would exist without Norm. They certainly wouldn’t look the way they do if he hadn’t taught me how to “draw good.” And they definitely wouldn’t appear in time lapse — that idea came from watching Norm at work. To see him draw something amazingly detailed and gorgeous at lightning speed was one of the sexiest things I’ve ever witnessed in the realm of art and illustration. It was like music. I wanted that for the Monsters, and since I can’t draw that fast, I cheated.
Q3 If you won a $100,000,000 lottery tomorrow, what would you do with the cash?
I’d make sure my parents were set for life, and my friends’ debts were paid off. I’d start some serious scholarships and give to Greenpeace and MoveOn. I’d use the rest of the money to hire amazing writers and animators to cook up the first season of a Daily Monster TV show that would blow your mind.
The editor recommends you go out on a wing and get acquainted with all of the Daily Monsters (also available in book + DVD form) … and see more Bucher design projects at 344 Design … and learn about Bucher’s illustration work here.