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15 Halloween Costumes for Designers – HOW Design TODAY October 2023

During the fall, the work grind tends to feel heavy and all-encompassing. With summer vacation in the rear-view mirror, it’s all productivity all the time in the lead-up to the winter holidays. But, fall is also spooky season—so let’s take a five-minute break from all the meetings and slide decks and have some fun with it.

Pretend to be doing ✨important design work ✨ when your boss walks by as we present: 15 Halloween Costumes for Designers, inspired by some of our favorite HOW Design Live keynote speakers and creatives from over the years. 

Aaron Draplin: This one is going to take some prep time. Notably—about a year of growing a resplendent beard. (You could also theoretically use a fake one, but when you’re aiming to look like someone as authentic as Draplin, you may as well go the extra mile.) Stuff a few Field Notes in your pockets, don a jean jacket and one of his signature “Action Caps,” and you’re good to go.

Stefan Sagmeister: There are a lot of Sagmeister stunts you could design a costume around. One we endorse: The bunny suit from The Happy Film. One we do not: That in-the-buff studio announcement postcard from yesteryear …

Debbie Millman: After you’ve pulled together a black outfit, cool boots, glasses and a microphone, the only thing left to do is to arch your eyebrow in Millman’s signature style … and radiate love and generosity and wisdom to round out the costume.

Jessica Hische: If you’ve ever seen Hische speak at HOW Design Live, you’ve probably noticed she has some super cool design-y tattoos. So grab one of her children’s books or a Moonrise Kingdom DVD as a prop, draw a colorful venn diagram on your arm, and let the good times rip.

Chip Kidd: To get the look of design’s sharpest sartorialist, you’re going to need to invest in a bespoke suit, some teashades … and, of course, a copy of Jurassic Park. Some superhero swagger helps, too.

Paula Scher: This costume isn’t as much about the clothes as it is a vibe: Own the room, be insanely talented, and intimidate the sh*t out of everyone as you do it. Then just tell people you’re Paula Scher. They’ll understand. (That being said, one of Scher’s insanely cool maps would also make for a remarkable fabric pattern …)

Steven Heller: Heller has written more than 200 books (!). At this point, he is practically made of books. So shave your head, grow or apply a goatee, turn your wit to 11, and lug armloads of books around with you at the Halloween party of your choice. It might not be the most practical costume, but hey, you’ll have some great reading material for when you need to take a break.

Rick Griffith: When you meet Griffith, you’re immediately and wholly struck by his delightfully eccentric hair—two marvelously honed prongs protruding skyward. Grab some gel, quickly develop a knack as a fascinating conversationalist and design leader, and hit the street.

Susan Kare: Kare’s legendary Mac icons are seared into our collective memory … and thus they’re a great design Easter egg costume. From the smiling mac to the little bomb, trash can, floppy disc and watch, choose your favorite and design your way to a brilliant look.

James Victore: Victore has always had some cowboy swagger, and when he moved to Texas a while back, he finally became one. To do the same for a night, grow or apply his gunfighter mustache/goatee combo, and grab a 10-gallon cowboy hat and one of his signature paint pens (just don’t forget to slice up the tip of the latter with a razor before heading out, as he has been known to do).

Jessica Walsh: The key here: those iconic bangs.

Peter Saville/Massimo Vignelli/Milton Glaser: The strapped-for-time designer can just retreat to their closet… where there’s a good chance they have either a Joy Division T-shirt, a New York Subway map shirt, or an “I <3 NY” shirt. In a pinch, throw one on, and suddenly you’re a design legend (or at minimum, honoring one).

Ruth Ansel: The trailblazing art director produced so many incredible covers in her career, but the one we’ve never been able to get out of our heads is the 1965 Harper’s Bazaar cover featuring Jean Shrimpton with a pink paper space helmet. It’s a work of impromptu genius … and a look that you could pull off yourself with some crafty headgear.

The logo, bigger: Choose your poison—any logo of your choice. (Perhaps one of Paul Rand’s greatest hits, like UPS, IBM or ABC?) Then, print it out huge. Do literal justice to the commandment given to us by so many clients: “Make the logo bigger!”

A graphic designer: You know the drill. Just wear black and call it a (holi)day.

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