Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?

Alluring imagery and bold statements in a new book on graphic design's maverick leader James Victore

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Most with the motto “badass” end up rock stars, porn stars or thrill-seeking rebels. The particular charm of graphic designer James Victore is that he’s all of these things; with his repertoire of heartfelt slogans and self-taught illustrations, he has succeeded in changing the way the world views commercial art and even better—the way people view the world.

As described by Michael Beirut in the introduction of his new book “Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?“, Victore is the type of designer who does away with the wine glass in favor of simply removing the cork and “pouring the stuff right down your throat.”

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Created in collaboration with friend and colleague Paul Sahre, the book presents 48 of the legendary designer’s projects and their backstory. Also included are influential quotes from authors, musicians, philosophers, as well as some insight from Victore himself, such as “To give a damn is a personal calling, not a job description.”


While Victore’s work spans surfboards and watches to book covers and editorial illustrations, his main passion is the poster. Personal work such as “Celebrate Columbus” (designed to question the greatness of a holiday that essentially marks the massacre of an entire subculture) or “Disney Go Home” (a graphic depicting NYC as a franchise) show his understanding that the “freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press.”

Ad campaign posters like those created for the School of Visual Arts (where Victore is also a professor) or Moët & Chandon are examples of how Toulouse-Lautrec’s “drawings and his use of bold graphics are a huge influence” on Victore and his work.

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Concerned that modern technology is a giant distraction “killing our discipline, our
capability for solitude and our wonderful gift of boredom,” Victore continues to prove that a brave message, strong opinion and beautiful execution will ultimately prevail over designs catering to a culture “reduced to monkeys staring at shiny things.”

An inspiration to all, “Victore” sells from Amazon.

All images are from “Victore or, Who Died and Made You Boss?” by James Victore; with an introduction by Michael Bierut and published by Abrams.