Amanda Meets Milton Glaser!

AIGA NY hosted a talk by the legendary Milton Glaser, and I was pretty excited to go, and meet him briefly afterwords.
Milton is probably most well known for the "I love NY" logo; his other more recognizable work includes iconic posters from the 60's & 70's {like this Dylan one}, and the Brooklyn Brewery identity. In 1954, he and Seymour Chwast established the internationally influential Pushpin Studio; he also co-founded the New Yorker Magazine.
He's had a single-man show at the MOMA, and was awarded the lifetime achievement award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
{Perhaps his highest honor: I named my cat after him:}
I think what I actually admire most about him is that he uses language brilliantly—there are no wasted words. He is startlingly precise, smart, and witty. His talk, called "One thing leads to Another," led us through a series of his recent work. Through it he traced how things he was thinking about in one piece influenced the next, and then that the next, and so on.

My favorite part was a section he called, "The client didn't buy it." He showed us some of his favorite {and I think best} work that clients didn't like and therefore never made it off the drawing board. Midway through, he displayed a series of clever posters for Coney Island, and cracked, "Couldn't sell those if my life depended on it."

Some highlights from the talk and Q&A:

Right now Milton is very interested in color. He's done a ton of personal studies, which have influenced his professional work.

"There's no such thing as getting stuck if you don't think there is such a thing as getting stuck. SO GET WORKING!!!"

Q: "Have you read any good books lately?"
A: "NO."

Milton's definitions of art and design:
Artist: someone who is free to pursue their own obsessions
Designer: someone who is subservient to the desires of the client

"The problem with this field is that it wants to find out what you can do well, and then force you to do it over and over and over and over..." but what obviously excites Milton is learning. He wants to figure out what he doesn't know, and he walks into the office driven by, "What can I learn today?"

"I hate advertising. Persuasion makes me nervous." {He thinks it's destructively manipulative to the consumer.}
"I hate identity. It's boring."
"I hate marketing. I hate things that numb the mind."

Q: "What are you working on now?"
A: "Like any studio, we have a mix of things that are interesting, and things that are not."

"The computer is the instrument of the devil."
He says that all young designers are now producing work that looks identical, because they have been overpowered by their tool. It does certain things well, so that is what everyone does with it. "It makes you do what it wants you to do. Approach it with suspicion."

"I can draw. Anything that I can see in my mind, I can put on paper." Milton thinks this is a more important and versatile tool than the computer.

He sees the fundamental struggle of design as creativity vs. clarity—he sees the two as opposed, and the principle challenge of the field is bringing them together.

1 comment:

  1. Man, what a treat! Thanks for the summation!