I got this letter from the legend Saul Bass in my senior year at Carnegie Mellon University. I spent that entire spring semester on a mission to find a job (more on that in upcoming posts), and part of that process was assembling a dream list of places and people I would’ve loved to work for. At the tippy top of that list was Mr. Bass—known for his groundbreaking work in film title sequence design. He single handedly created the industry of title design as an art form and a discipline. This was an area of graphic design I hardly knew existed until a CMU professor opened my eyes to Saul Bass’s work earlier that year. I was studying film title sequences and the geniuses that crafted them long before it was fashionable. These days, it’s a common area of design and motion graphics—there’s even some popular blogs on it, but 22 years ago, very few of us were using that in the daily lexicon of graphic design discussions. As soon as I started studying Bass’s work (and a select number of other visionaries of his era) I knew immediately that was the career path for me.

True to my form, I set a moonshot goal and I go for it. No regrets. Writing Mr. Bass a letter with a copy of my portfolio was a no brainer for me. This was the best rejection letter I ever got.

Saul Bass past away just over one year later, on April 25, 1996.