I was born in New York City and grew up in Huntington, New York. As a kid I secretly wanted to be a rock musician, but I had no musical ability whatsoever. At the time, I figured the next best thing would be to design album covers – to my surprise, that’s what I ended up doing.
I studied drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, filmmaking, and animation at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After graduation I did editorial illustration for New York Magazine, Esquire, The New York Times, The Whole Earth Review, and Ms. Magazine, among other publications. I entered the world of graphic design through economic necessity – starting at the bottom, with paste-up and typesetting.
A staff job at the Arica Institute ended when the art department was dissolved, and my two fellow designers (Pat Gorman and Patti Rogoff) were convinced we should start our own studio. I was reluctant but feared a real job more than the unknown.
We rented a tiny corner in the back of The School of T’ai Chi in Greenwich Village and filled it with drafting tables, a photostat camera, and other equipment purchased from Arica. We named our studio Manhattan Design, and began with nothing but faith and innocence. We explored our youthful creativity, loved and almost killed each other, and made a living. We learned a lot, worked real hard, got taken advantage of, and met some cool people. We had our own way – one of my partners used to say that we weren’t housebroken. Most of our work was for the music and entertainment industry, and our most famous creation was the chameleonlike logo and original “look” of MTV; Music Television.
During this time I began teaching illustration at Parsons School of Design and came up with the idea for What The Songs Look Like: Contemporary Artists Interpret Talking Heads Songs, the book I put together with David Byrne. I also became the founding art director of Tricycle: the Buddhist Review.
After 12 years, Manhattan Design was dissolved. I was creatively burned out and emotionally drained. I needed a break and took a short trip to India. When I returned I had absolutely no plans. Almost immediately some former clients began calling me at home offering me design work. Since then I have worked independently.
For the past twenty-one years, I have continued to design CD packaging and have worked on all sorts of other things including my second book, Buddha Book: A Meeting of Images.
This website shows the range of my work. I am always interested in new and challenging projects. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information or requests.
— Frank Olinsky