Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

by Fred Showker

Milton Glaser's famous I Love NY logo According to the Design Center's contact and inquiry forms, if the readers select the options truthfully, about 66% of your peers now reading the pages of DTG are in the graphic design field. All of the others fall into the realms of illustrators, photographers, publicists, desktop publishers, media or advertising professionals, self employed, students and teachers. So, to all our readers -- I believe this is one of the most important films that you will view in your visual communications careers.

Milton Glaser in his studioIf you've been anywhere in the world, and seen any visual that says "I Love" this or "I ♥ THAT", you can thank Milton Glaser. He's probably best known for his his enduring I ♥ NY campaign, and for co-founding New York magazine*. However there is so much more to the contributions Milton Glaser has made to the graphic design and advertising worlds it nearly defies description. Yesterday, New Video and Arthouse Films rolled out the documentary film "To Inform & Delight", directed and produced by Wendy Keys -- to inform and delight visual communicators all over the world. I've watched it now, maybe five times, and each viewing delights me with fresh inspiration that I didn't catch before.

First-time filmmaker Wendy Keys has created a masterful glimpse into everyday moments of Glaser's life and captures his immense warmth and humanity, as well as the boundless depth of his intelligence and creativity. Interwoven with slide shows from his incredible portfolio, you see both familiar images as well as inspirational new discoveries. (You find yourself muttering, "I had no idea Glaser did that!") These moments with the icon of the graphic design field -- often called "The Godfather of Graphic Design" -- become learning experiences, and you savor them as if you were there.

Famous poster of Bob Dylan by Milton Glaser Glaser's involvement and leading role in Pushpin Studios with other influential creatives of the time established a new era of graphic communications. It defined the 1960s, and brought a fresh departure from the static design of the Bauhaus and modernism -- which spread around the world. At the emergence of this 'new direction' in graphic communications, young designers were following -- idolizing -- the works being churned out by Pushpin Studios. Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, and the others at Pushpin Studios defined a style and attitude that would push the next three decades.

Throught the film, you get to know the man, and peek into the thought processes behind the scenes. Seeing familiar images and visions, you discover that you may have known him all along -- just didn't know it!

Talking about the "I Love NY" campaign, Milton describes it more like a puzzle that came out of a very simplistic idea.

Even product design has been influenced by Milton Glaser
quoting I explain to students in terms of understanding communication, that the creation of a puzzle is one of the tools that you have to make people understand things. When they activate the mind to try to figure something out, the likelihood is that they will remember it and respond to it more than if they're told something directly. And in the case of 'I love NY' which seems so simple -- 'I' is a word, which is a complete word within itself; heart, which is a symbol for a feeling, and 'NY' which are initials for a place. And, because of that simple little trick of activating the problem-solving impulse of the brain, it stuck in people's minds. They saw it once and they remembered it. end quote

He explains that although he made nothing on the mark -- ever -- he's very proud to have had an influence on turning people's minds around and reminding them that they 'love this place.' After the terrorist attacks of 911, he slightly modified the mark and produced this poster: "More than Ever."

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