Things that matter in life: In loving memory of Milton Glaser (1929–2020)

Things that matter in life: In loving memory of Milton Glaser (1929–2020)

Originally published on Handpicked stories about Creativity on Medium on 2020 06 30 by Yiying Lu——-8—————–creativity

Q: What makes life meaningful?

The only thing that makes life meaningful is your relationships with other human beings.

That’s the only thing there is. Fame, money, and reputation is bullshit.

Your relationships with other human beings who you lived with, are the only thing that counts.

Nothing else.

Q. What’s your thought on Logic v.s. Intuition?

I don’t believe in logic.

Because logic is a small part of the experience and a small part of understanding.

The intuition is much more powerful and much more significant than human activity.

Logic is a small mischievous activity that people use to cover up what they don’t know.

Q. In the age of the rise of technology, what are your thoughts on technology and human experience?

There is no equivalent to a conversation with somebody in front of you talking to you when you actually experience the person. The cell phone cuts off that experience. It makes others object.

I read something interesting that was very moving to me not long ago, at a meeting where people were talking about expressing love, and the conversation got to someone. I think it was in Africa, who said: In our country, there’s no word for love. There’s no way of saying “I love you”.

And somebody said: So what do you say instead?

They said: “I see you”.

I suddenly got it: Merely to see the person in front of you, is as close as you’ll ever get to loving someone. Because it means you have understood and accepted what you see.

Q. What’s the most important thing to understand in our lives?

How do you understand what is real, is the question of life.

Below are some of my personal favorite iconic designs by Milton Glaser:

Above: The I Love New York Logo, is a tourism-campaign symbol created by Milton Glaser and first used in 1977 to promote the city and state. It is perhaps, the most widely distributed and imitated images in the world. It consists of an upper-case “I,” followed by a red heart ❤️ symbol, and then the upper-case letters “N” and “Y,” set in the rounded slab serif typeface American Typewriter.

The campaign was an enormous success, as it is an important cornerstone of graphic design history. Never before, there was such a powerful symbol that truly transformed the image of a city, created unity and belonging, as well as huge economic returns for the city.

This design piece is not only visually significant as a pop-culture icon, which inspired imitations in every corner of the globe, merchandise proclaiming “I ❤️ …” can be found wherever tourists gather. More importantly, this design has both cultural and historical significance in New York. In the 1970s, New York was going through rough times: Crime was at an all-time high, and tourism was at an all-time low. In 1977, William S. Doyle, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce, hired advertising agency Wells Rich Greene to develop a tourist-friendly campaign to encourage visitors to The Big Apple. The agency soon established several central components of the campaign: a slogan (“I Love New York”), a jingle, and a television commercial highlighting Broadway theater. Yet, they did not have a logo. Enter Milton Glaser, whose prolific portfolio included a portrait of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits album, the design of New York magazine which he co-founded in 1968, and the visual identity design of the restaurant in the World Trade Center.

According to “A Brief History of the ‘I ❤️ NY’ Logo”, Glaser was recruited by the Department for Economic Development to meet with Wells Rich Greene about logo options for the New York City campaign. During the meeting, Glaser pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of his pocket with a doodle he made during a recent cab ride. On the back of an envelope, he had scribbled the logo that we know today, and after the concept hit a nerve for Wells Rich Greene, he proceeded to develop it further, stacking the characters and determining the typeface.

Milton Glaser: I (Heart) NY concept sketch (1976), Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Glaser did the work entirely pro bono, in the name of helping the city rise again. “That’s what it should be,” he told graphic designer Chip Kidd in an interview in The Believer. “You want to do things like that, where you feel you can actually change things.”

Today, the New York State Empire State Development (ESD), New York’s chief economic development agency, holds the trademark to the “I Love New York” logo, and licenses its use. According to a 2011 British Telegraph newspaper article, official merchandise, such as t-shirts and mugs emblazoned with Glaser’s design, generates more than $30 million a year, and the ESD receives a significant portion of the profits.

The logo experienced a surge of popularity after the September 11 attacks on the city, when it created a sense of unity. During this time, many visitors to New York City following the attacks purchased and wore “I ❤️ NY” shirts to show their solidarity. Glaser even created a modified version of the logo to commemorate the 9/11 attacks, reading “I ❤️ NY More Than Ever” with a black spot on the heart to represent the World Trade Center site. The poster was printed in the New York Daily News and served as part of a fundraiser for New York charities supporting those affected by the attacks. Added text at the bottom encouraged people to “Be generous. Your city needs you. This poster is not for sale.”

Glaser thinks the fact that the logo came from New York City, which he called “the capital of the universe,” ultimately contributed to its worldwide popularity, transforming New York tourism into the flourishing industry it is today, and in my humble opinion, truly demonstrated the power of graphic design and visual communication as a medium to create community, culture and belonging.

Below: Poster of Bob Dylan with the kaleidoscope hair, for CBS records, 1966. MoMA. After suffering serious injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1966, singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was rendered bedridden and rumored to be dead. To generate positive publicity for his forthcoming album, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits, CBS records commissioned Milton Glaser to design a special poster to be packaged with the album. Taking inspiration from a Marcel Duchamp self-portrait, Glaser depicted Dylan in profile, his abundant curly hair rendered in saturated colors that stood out in high contrast from the white ground. The energetic design with its swirling streams of color evokes the visual effects of the psychedelic drugs that were gaining popularity amongst members of the counterculture.

Bob Dylan with the kaleidoscope hair, poster for CBS records, that was included in the singer’s greatest hits album, 1966. Museum of Modern Art, New York

Below: 2 posters inspired by a brilliant headline: “Full-Color Sound.” for Sony, 1979.

Sometimes words trigger the visual imagination in a powerful way. Milton said the 2nd image above, owes a debt to René Magritte, one of his all-time favorite sources of ideas.

Below: Milton Glaser’s poster teeing up the launch of New York Magazine, 1967. (My personal favorite)

Rest in Peace, Milton Glaser. We ❤️ You.

Thank you for inspiring so many of us to embrace design with an open heart.

Although you are no longer with us in the physical realm, may your thoughts, words, and spirit continue to be with us, inspire and guide us in the years to come.

I will forever treasure the memories and the lessons you gave me.

The World Is Made Better Because of You ❤️.

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Copywriter and marketing consultant. Author of 'Stories And Recipes From The Soup Kitchen.' Freedom lover, adventurer, and treasure hunter.

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