Alexey Brodovitch: My Ideal Design Teacher


Lately I’ve been receiving a serious overload of “Back to School” Fall emails. As I continue to sift through and click delete, I’ve started to get reminiscent of that feeling of excitement you get on the first day of school. Though I’m not exactly looking for another four year commitment, I have started to daydream about my ideal learning environment – a (free!) one week seminar with an amazingly talented and respected designer.

I’ve thought a lot about who that ideal talent would be and went back and fourth between a few design icons as of late: David Carson, Tina Roth Eisenberg and Milton Glaser. Finally I decided upon (in an ideal world) the late Russian designer and instructor, Alexey Brodovitch (1898-1971).


For those unfamiliar with Brodovitch, he was a photographer, painter, designer, and instructor most known for his innovative and modern layouts for Harper’s Bazaar, as well as his unconventional and experimental teaching style.

I chose Brodovitch because I’ve recently been getting into vintage magazine covers and modernist eastern European design. What I love most about his work is his use of unusual layouts that play with juxtaposed angles, striking imagery, and bold type and color.



As a teacher Brodovitch was also highly respected and known for pushing his students in ways no teacher had pushed them before. He wanted students to move from the dated and tired style of realism and push towards modernism, an uncommon idea in the US during his time, and he was most famous for condemning the familiar and boring.

As Hiro, famous fashion photographer and student of Brodovitch says, “I learned from him that if, when you look in your camera, you see an image you have ever seen before, don’t click the shutter.”

With a highly talented list of graduates that include photographers and art directors at the top firms and magazines such as Vogue, Mademoiselle, CBS, and Newsweek, who wouldn’t dream of attending a class with the talented Brodovitch!

Has the impending end to summer got you thinking about re-vamping or re-charging your design skills? Attending any cool classes or workshops? Let us know! We love to learn, no matter the season.

Sources: AIGA, Iconographics