World-Famous Graphic Designer Henry Steiner Shares Expertise


Graphic designer Henry Steiner with students from the School of Graphic Design. Photo by Bob Toy.

During his visit with Academy of Art University graphic design students at Spring Show on May 20, world-renowned graphic designer and the creator of Hong Kong banknotes Henry Steiner joked: “I’m glad I’m not entering the profession right now.”

He elaborated that is because he doesn’t want to compete with the students who will soon be immersing themselves in the field.

“I’m really overwhelmed by all the students’ professionalism and competency in the work they’ve put together,” Steiner said.


Steiner, who was born in New York and raised in Vienna, attended Yale where he studied with Paul Rand and at the Sorbonne on a Fulbright Scholarship. His signature work juxtaposes different aesthetic and cultural traditions to create new visual concepts. Today, he’s a sought-after speaker for his progressive views on the influence China has on many design traditions emanating from the West.

Steiner was named Hong Kong Designer of the Year and a World Master by Japan’s Idea magazine. Next magazine cited him as among the 100 people most influential in Hong Kong’s history and he has been awarded the Golden Decoration of Honor of the Republic of Austria.

He is best known for corporate identities of international companies, the most recognized of which is HSBC, as well as some of Asia’s most prominent brands such as Duty Free Shoppers, Hongkong Land, Hong Kong Jockey Club and Lane Crawford.

He is also the founder of Steiner&Co., one of the world’s leading design consultancies.


(L–R) Executive Vice President of Artistic Development Gladys Perint Palmer, Hanisha Amin, Henry Steiner and Executive Director of the School of Graphic Design Mary Scott. Photo by Bob Toy.

Also in attendance at the portfolio review was Executive Vice President of Artistic Development Gladys Perint Palmer, who shared that Steiner is a very modest man.

“By the time I met him he was already very successful and well-known,” Palmer said, noting that he’s probably the most distinguished graphic designer in the world. “He’s won awards, not just in the Far East but all over the world. He’s designed logos for hotels, pretty much everything that has an ‘h’ in it.”

Palmer laughed as she added, “One time he said he’s running out of ‘h’s.’”

Steiner spent time individually meeting with graphic design students and offering comments on their work. Students laid out the contents of their portfolios on individual large tables, as Steiner walked around and took several minutes to delve into each of their specific art.  

While discussing students’ work during his visit to the Academy, Steiner provided thoughtful feedback. When he arrived at the table of student Hanisha Amin, Steiner was greeted by a large square book with soft pastel colors and whimsical-looking lines and graphics. As he opened the portfolio and leafed through her work, he asked Amin what she was mainly interested in, to which she replied, “Print, [I] like working with my hands.”

“I made these flowers with my hands, which was really fun,” Amin said, providing Steiner with some background on her work as he looked at her portfolio. Amin described her work as “taking every day problems and making them more uplifting.”


Photo by Bob Toy.


Photo by Bob Toy.

Steiner shared that he was overwhelmed with all of the students’ work and talent.

“I’m genuinely stunned at how much they’ve covered and with such sophistication,” he said.

On May 21, Steiner received an honorary doctorate from the Academy during the M.F.A. commencement ceremony.

“The impact of Henry Steiner’s work throughout Asia Pacific has been extraordinary,” said Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens. “Rarely has one person’s work influenced the global marketplace as much as Henry Steiner. His comprehensive corporate identity campaigns have transformed the graphic design industry.”