Walk through any supermarket and you’ll see the work of Professor Stephen H. Longo, coordinator of the Graphic Design program at County College of Morris (CCM).
The logos and package designs for Haagen-Dazs ice cream and Close-Up toothpaste, the packages for Smart Ones frozen meals and Jell-O Cheesecake Snacks are all his work. He also designed the logo for the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation and the first Irish and Israeli peace symbols.
Included among his many awards are several Clios. He also was nominated for a lifetime achievement award to the Smithsonian/Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
His story is the classic one of starting in the mailroom and working his way up. That success, however, did not come without the assistance of others. Working in the mailroom at Grey Advertising in New York City, he befriended an art director who encouraged him to apply to Pratt Institute and helped him put together a portfolio.
"If it weren’t for him taking me under his wing, I wouldn’t be where I am today," says Longo. Wanting to share that same sort of assistance with others, Longo joined the CCM faculty in 2001. "I love teaching. I feel as though I’m giving back."
What he tries to impart to his students is that graphic design requires strong listening and communications skills.
"You need to know your clients’ goals and their market," he says. "You have to absorb as much as you can to convey a powerful and lasting message. Fads fall by the wayside, but as a designer you want to create something with staying power."
After completing his bachelor’s degree, he earned his master’s from Pratt Institute. He worked at several major firms, including CatoJohnson, Young & Rubicam, and Lippincott & Marguilies Inc., before opening his own firm, Stephen Longo Design Associates.
Asked where he finds inspiration, Longo responds, "I find that creativity is like a river. Sometimes that river is right in front of you and other times that river is not getting fed. When that happens, you need to take the time to feed your creativity."