How did one of the most influential design thinkers of our time get his start?

You’ve undoubtedly seen Steven Heller’s work. Serving 30+ years as an art director at the New York Times and authoring or contributing to over 200+ books on typography, illustration, and design, Heller has left his mark on the graphic design community.

Though Heller’s résumé is chock-full of illustrious roles at august institutions, his early career was built from luck, happenstance, and the grimy, tumultuous underground press scene. Growing Up Underground, Heller’s coming-of-age memoir, chronicles his life from ages 16 to 26 and illustrates the vitality and possibility of art and counterculture in 1960s and 70s New York.

On February 23, Steven Heller and OHNY Board Vice President Saundra Thomas held a lively conversation on his memories of Growing Up Underground, creating a career from scratch, and the rise and fall of the alternative press in New York.

Purchase Growing Up Underground here.

AIA CES credit (1 LU) is available for this program.

Speaker bios

Steven Heller is cochair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design Program. He served as an art director at the New York Times for thirty-three years and currently writes’s Daily Heller column, which Wired magazine has called a “must-follow feed in the world of design.” He is the author or coauthor of two hundred books on graphic design, satiric art, and illustration and lives in New York City.

Saundra Thomas is Principal of SPT Consults and lends her expertise on strategic planning, team building and board development to nonprofits. Most recently, she was Vice-President of Community Affairs at WABC-TV, where she led the strategic vision for community outreach, station visibility, and philanthropy while working with 200+ nonprofits in the tristate. Thomas has made community service the center of her life and was a candidate for New York City Council in 2013.


Series Description

OHNY Stacks is a series of book talks exploring the unknown, the unseen, and the unnoticed. Join us on Thursday evenings with authors of highly acclaimed books critical to understanding the past, present, and future of New York—as well as national trends or global issues that influence the shape, structure, and experience of cities and urban life today.