AIGA Jacksonville presented Louise Fili at this year's I Love Design event. I never thought I would see the day when I got to meet my number one influence! I've followed her work for the past several years, I own several of her books, and I've read Elegantissima twice since I bought it in December. But in chatting with her and listening to her tell her story in person I came away with an even better understanding of her approach to design and problem solving.
Like Louise, I do extensive historical research when starting a project and try to base my concept on something old that can be made new again. But beyond that, I was struck by her fearlessness in problem solving and finding ways to make her vision for a project come to life. Oops, turned out there were no fabric remnants to cover menus with and it had to be purchased ... she still made it work. The 92nd Street subway stop doesn't exist - no matter, the logo was executed in such detail that it looks as if it's a real sign for a real stop. A recurring theme in the story of her career seems to be that of running up against challenges that make a project seem impossible, but she charges ahead and finds a way to make it happen and still be beautiful.
I have a long way to go to even get close to her skill level, but it gives me hope that both tenaciousness and flexibility seemed to be a big part of her success, in addition to natural talent. She paraphrased Thomas Edison's adage, "Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% prespiration": in her words, "Graphic design is 1% design and 99% making sure the project doesn't get screwed up."