What makes Stefan Sagmeister happy?

Watch the graphic designer do drugs, therapy and don a pink bunny outfit in new cinematic work, The Happy Film
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A still from Stefan Sagmeister's Happy Film
A still from Stefan Sagmeister's Happy Film

Typographical problems getting you down? Can't find the joy in images and text? Then maybe it's time to turn to Stefan Sagmeister. The award-winning Austrian graphic designer and typographer has released a film about happiness. The Happy Film is the culmination of a seven-year project, during which Sagmeister sought to measure and improve on his own happiness ratings. His considerable efforts were recorded, mixed with some unsurprisingly delightful graphics and turned into a feature-length documentary.

Like all good designers, Sagmeister, 53, set himself a brief. His challenge was to discover whether it’s possible for a person to have a meaningful impact on his or her own happiness. To test this, he turns to three in-vogue methods for finding happiness: meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychotropic drugs.

 

This search manifests itself with the designer bouncing through his adopted city New York in a pink bunny suit adorned with the slogan ‘Lose Face’. And also riding an elephant. In the film’s promo, Sagmeister’s dour expression doesn’t crack, and he admits that “trying to chase after something more meaningful turned out to be a big pain in the ass”.

However, he now rates his happiness as 7.6 out of 10, which is a big improvement on the score of 3, which he had when he started the process. The Happy Film premieres at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival this week and then moves to Hot Dogs International Film Festival in Toronto, is in part inspired by Sagmeister’s exhibition The Happy Show, which toured US arts venues a couple of years back. For more great writing and insight into graphic design, from the Gutenberg Press to the Apple Mac, order a copy of The Archive of Graphic Design here.


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