Hillman Curtis, artist, designer, filmmaker, Brooklynite, bicyclist, friend, and explorer passed away last week at the young age of 51. I put off writing about him because I couldn’t find the words. Everything I would try to write felt so insignificant for such a significant man. Thankfully, as is usually the case, I found my words among friends. The folks over at Happy Cog have collected some thoughts on Hillman and invited a few of us staff alumni to share too. Below is my contribution:

I followed Hillman’s work when I was first getting started in design. He stood out as a voice and style all his own; you could plainly see that this guy was in a whole different class. And after I had read his stunning book, MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer, I wanted to be just like him. If not for Hillman’s work, I wouldn’t be the designer I am today.

Later when I moved to NY I ended up living in the same neighborhood as Hillman. I’m honored to have counted myself among his friends, and further to have had the opportunity to collaborate on a few of his projects. I always looked forward to running into him on the street and talking at length about bikes and cameras and what we were each obsessed with at that moment. He was generous with his time and endlessly curious about bringing beauty to the world.

His influence will be felt for many years to come. I didn’t get to know him half as much as I wish, but even now I look up to him as a creative force, an inspiration, and as kind-hearted a guy as they come. He will be missed.

More on Hillman

The New York Times has a great piece on Hillman, and many individuals shared stories online too. If you’ve never seen it, or if you haven’t seen it in some time, please do have a look at Hillman’s work. This film is a great place to start.