Stefan Sagmeister studied graphic design at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. He later received a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Pratt Institute in New York.
He began his design career at the age of 15 at Alphorn, an Austrian youth magazine, which is named after the traditional Alpine musical instrument. In 1991 he moved to Hong Kong to work in Leo Burnett's Hong Kong Design Group. In 1993, he returned to New York to work at Tibor Kalman’s M&Co design company. His tenure there was short-lived, as Kalman soon decided to retire from the design business to edit Colors magazine for the Benetton Group in Rome.
This led Sagmeister, in 1993, to form New York-based Sagmeister Inc. That company has since delivered branding, graphics, and packaging for clients as diverse as the Rolling Stones, HBO, the Guggenheim Museum, and Time Warner. Past employees of Sagmeister Inc. include Martin Woodtli, and also Hjalti Karlsson and Jan Wilker, who later formed Karlssonwilker.
Stefan Sagmeister is a long-standing artistic collaborator with musicians David Byrne and Lou Reed. He is the author of several books.
Solo exhibitions of Sagmeister’s work have been mounted in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Berlin, Osaka, Prague, Cologne, and Seoul. He teaches in the graduate department of the School of Visual Arts in New York and has been appointed as the Frank Stanton Chair at the Cooper Union School of Art, New York. Sagmeister is the recepient of a 2013 AIGA Medal.
His motto is: “Design that needed guts from the creator and still carries the ghost of these guts in the final execution.”
Sagmeister takes a year-long sabbatical approximately every seven years, during which he does not take work from clients. He spends the year experimenting with personal work and refreshing himself as a designer.