Born on May 3rd, 1931, in Çorum, Turkey, Sait Maden started writing poetry at the age of 13 and began learning French and Ottoman at the age of 16. He learned Spanish to be able to translate Lorca from his mother tongue. From 1949–55 he studied at IDGSA Painting Department in Istanbul, graduating from Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu Workshop.
As a side job between 1955 and 1960 Maden designed logos, billboard displays, theatre decors, and cinema posters. It wasn’t until after 1960 when he focused on the graphic design discipline, concentrating mainly on publication design. He designed around 8,000 book and magazine covers for many publishing houses, as well as periodicals, brochures, packaging, labels, and around 500 logos. He crafted some of the fonts used in his books, and was the designer of many political election posters. In 1964 he established his own private workshop.
Trailer for the Sait Maden documentary by Miraç Güldoğan.
He was among the founders of the Graphic Artists Association in 1969, spending a period as chairman of the association. In 1979, in an effort to document the history of Turkish graphic design, Sait started the book project “Turkish Graphic Art from the Beginning to the Present.” This would be the first book of its kind for his country. Although he couldn’t complete the book due to a lack of time and support, parts of the project were published in the “Graphic Art” magazine, and a section was published in the journal “Cevre.” Sait’s attention to the lack of design awareness in Turkey and his comments on the absence of a graphic designer in the museum are thought to explain the lack of support for his work.
Sait collated his logo designs for his book titled “Simgeler” (Icons) published in 1990. Sadly out of print, as far as I can tell. In the preface he wrote, “Since my first award-winning icon was drawn in 1955, I have been an observer and practitioner for fifty years. In these fifty years, I have drawn hundreds of symbols.” Sadık Karamustafa said the following about Sait, “It would be fair to say that he is the designer who brought the contemporary typographic approach to Turkish graphic design.”
In 1996, he founded Çekirdek Publishing in order to publish poetry and translation books. He reflected the different moods that literature brought him into his various illustration styles.
Various retrospective exhibitions were publicly shown between 2009 and 2019, and the Turkish design great passed away on June 19th, 2013.
Sait Maden’s page on the Ankara Library website (in Turkish).
If you have any stories about Sait, or resources for his work, please comment or get in touch.