"I Love NY"

25 Jul Milton Glasser things he learned about graphic design

One of the icons of international graphic design, the lessons of a veteran in the trade, created the well-known symbol for I love New York. Glaser’s style is characterized by eclecticism and is influenced by numerous sources although it has always given illustration a great importance. Share 10 basic principles when facing the profession. To pay attention to these advice.


“Tribute to MiltonGlasser”



• You can only work for people you like

It is a curious rule that took me a long time to learn because, in fact, at the beginning of my practice I felt the opposite. Being a professional required that you did not particularly like the people you worked for, or at least that you maintained a distant relationship, which meant not having lunch with clients or having social encounters. A few years ago I realized that the opposite was true. I discovered that all the valuable and meaningful work that I had produced came from affective relationships with clients. I’m not talking about professionalism; I’m talking about affection. I am talking about sharing some common principles with the client. That, in fact, your vision of life is congruent with that of the client. Otherwise the struggle is bitter and hopeless.

• If you can choose, do not have a job

One night I was sitting in my car outside of Columbia University, where my wife Shirley was studying anthropology. While I was waiting, I listened to the radio and heard a journalist ask: “Now that you’re seventy-five, do you have any advice for our audience on how to prepare for old age?” An irritated voice said: “Why do you all ask me lately about old age?” I recognized the voice of John Cage. As soon as I met him, I admired his contribution to our time.


You know, I do not know how to prepare for old age,” he said. “I never had a job, because if you have a job, someday somebody will take it from you and then you will not be ready for old age. For me it has been the same every day since the twelve. I wake up in the morning and try to give me an idea of ​​how to bring bread to the table today. It’s the same at seventy-five: I get up every morning and think about how I’m going to bring the bread to the table today. I am excellently prepared for old age.”


• Some people are toxic, better to avoid it

In the sixties there was a man named Fritz Perls who was a Gestalt psychologist. Gestalt therapy, derived from the history of art, proposes that you must understand the “everything” before the details. What you should observe is the entire culture, the whole family, and the community, etc. Perls proposed that in all relationships people can be as toxic as they are enriching. It is not necessarily true that the same person is toxic or enriching in all their relationships, but the combination of two people can produce toxic or enriching consequences. And the important thing I can say is that there is a test to determine if someone is toxic or enriching in your relationship with you. Here’s the test: you have to spend some time with the person, whether it’s taking a drink, going to dinner or watching a sports game. It does not matter too much, but in the end see if you feel more or less energized, if you are tired or if you are strengthened. If you are more tired, then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy, they have enriched you. The test is almost infallible and I suggest using it all your life.

I was fascinated by a story in a newspaper a few years ago about the search for absolute hearing. A group of scientists decided that they would discover why some people have absolute hearing. They are the ones who can hear a note accurately and replicate it exactly in the correct tone. Some people have a very fine ear, but absolute hearing is rare even among musicians. Scientists discovered-I do not know how-that in people with absolute hearing the brain was different. Certain lobes of the brain had undergone some change or recurrent deformation among those who had absolute hearing. This was interesting enough in itself, but then they discovered something even more fascinating: if you take a group of children of four or five years old and teach them to play the violin, after a few years some of them will have developed absolute hearing, and in all those cases your brain structure will have changed. Well … what could that mean for the rest of us? We tend to believe that the mind affects the body and that the body affects the mind, but generally we do not believe that everything we do affects the brain. I am convinced that if someone shouted at me from the other side of the street, my brain could be affected and my life could change. That’s why my mother always said: “Do not get together with those bad guys”. Mom was right Thought changes our life and our behavior.

I also think that drawing works in the same way. I am a great defender of drawing, not because I have become an illustrator, but because I believe that drawing changes the brain, in the same way that finding the right note changes the life of a violinist. Drawing makes you attentive, makes you pay attention to what you see, which is not so easy.

• Doubt is better than certainty

Everyone always talks about having confidence, about believing in what you do. I remember that once in yoga class the teacher said that, spiritually speaking, if you believe that you have attained enlightenment, you have hardly reached your limits. I think it’s true in a practical sense. Deep-seated beliefs of any kind prevent you from opening yourself to experiment, and that is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous that someone believes too much in something. Being skeptical and questioning any entrenched conviction is essential. Of course, we must be clear about the difference between skepticism and cynicism, because cynicism is as restrictive of one’s openness to the world as passionate convictions: they are like twins. In short, solving any problem is more important than being right. There is a sense of self-sufficiency in both the art world and the design world. Maybe it starts at school. Art schools often privilege a personality model like that of the philosopher Ayn Rand, who always resisted the ideas of culture that surrounded her. The theory of the avant-garde is that as an individual you can transform the world, which is true up to a point. One of the signs of the damaged ego is absolute certainty.

“Less is not necessarily more”

Schools encourage the idea of ​​not engaging and defending your work at all costs. Well, the point is that all work has to do more than anything with the nature of the commitment. You just have to know what to commit to. The blind pursuit of your own ends at the expense of excluding the possibility that others may be right, does not take into account the fact that in design we always deal with a triad: the client, the audience and yourself. Ideally, through some kind of negotiation all parties will win, but self-sufficiency is usually the enemy. Narcissism usually comes from some kind of childhood trauma that should not be deepened. It is a very difficult aspect in human relationships. A few years ago I read a very remarkable thing about love, which also applies to the nature of the relationship with others. It was a quote from Iris Murdoch in her obituary. He said: “Love is the extremely difficult fact to realize that the other, who is not one, is real.” Is not it fantastic ?! The best conclusion on the subject of love that can be imagined.

• About age

Last year someone gave me a lovely book by Roger Rosenblatt for my birthday, called Ageing Gracefully. I did not realize the title at the time, but it contains a series of rules to age gracefully. The first rule is the best: “It does not matter. It does not matter what you think. Follow this rule and you will add decades to your life. It does not matter if it’s sooner or later, if you’re here or there, if you said it or not, if you’re smart or stupid. If you went disheveled or bald or if your boss looks at you streaky or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you streaked, if you’re scratched. Whether or not you get that promotion or prize or house: it does not matter. ” Great wisdom Then I heard a wonderful story that seemed related to rule number ten: A butcher was opening his business one morning and while doing it a rabbit stuck his head through the door. The butcher was surprised when the rabbit asked: “Do you have cabbage?” The butcher said: “This is a butcher shop, we sell meat, not vegetables.” The rabbit was jumping. The next day the butcher was opening his business and the rabbit stuck his head out and asked, “Do you have cabbage?” The butcher now angry replied: “Listen to me little rodent, I told you yesterday that we sell meat, not vegetables, and the next time you come here I’ll grab you by the neck and nail those loose ears to the ground”. The rabbit disappeared abruptly and nothing happened for a week. Then one morning the rabbit poked his head out of the corner and asked, “Do you have nails?” The butcher said: “No”. Then the rabbit said: “Do you have cabbage?”


• Tell the truth

The story of the rabbit is important because it occurred to me that looking for cabbage in a butcher shop would be like looking for ethics in the field of design. It does not seem to be the best place to find it. It is interesting to note that in the new code of ethics of the American Institute of Graphic Arts there is a significant amount of information about behaviors with clients and with other designers, but not a word about the relationship of the designer with the public. What is expected of the butcher is that he sells meat that can be eaten and not misleading merchandise. I remember reading that, during the Stalin years in Russia, everything labeled “veal” was actually chicken. I do not want to imagine what would be labeled “chicken”. We can accept some minimum level of deception, such as being lied to about the fatty index of hamburgers, but when the butcher sells rotten meat, we go somewhere else. As designers, do we have less responsibility to our audience than a butcher? Anyone interested in enrolling graphic designers should note that the purpose of a license plate is to protect the public, not the designers or customers. “Do no harm” is a warning to doctors that has to do with the relationship with their patients, not with their colleagues or with laboratories. If we were enrolled, telling the truth would become something more important in our activity.

Article published in Prodavinci courtesy of The Malpensante Magazine by Milton Glaser
Source: designals.net

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