Milton Glaser, the designer who invented the I Love New York logo
Wonderful interview with a very interesting man who has a long and rich life under his belt. You can feel the thought, life experience and wisdom in his words. I very much like his attitude to life, his excitement to create and to explore the world. This man’s name is Milton Glaser. He is famous for being the author of the famous I love New York emblem with a red heart. He died in 2020 at the age of 91. Died on his birthday. RIP dear Milton! Thank you for the inspiration!
I’ve been thinking about art all my conscious life. And here’s what I think about it. Art has a very definite purpose. It helps people to survive, to continue existing as a species. You may ask how? I will answer. Art makes people more attentive.
One day when I was 17 years old and I was sitting at the table with my mother, I looked at her face and suddenly realized I wanted to draw a portrait of her. I also realized that until that moment, I hadn’t paid attention to what she looked like. We get used to people, things, events we deal with all the time. It wasn’t until I felt the urge to paint her that I really got a good look at her face.
We cannot describe what art is, neither with precise definitions nor with functions. We can only say that art affects our consciousness to the extent that we become attentive. This is something like Buddhist philosophy. Then this definition, that art makes us mindful, includes the painter painting a picture and the little boy making himself a cheese sandwich. At least I have no other definition of what art is.
You might say that when you look at an artist’s painting of a landscape, your perception of the landscape changes altogether. You see, the artist’s painting allowed you to see some aspect of the landscape that you hadn’t realized before. It made you more attentive to what is contained in the landscape, in nature in general.
The fact is that the computer is an extraordinarily powerful tool. And like all tools, it changes the perception of such concepts as reality, pleasure, proportion, necessity. So even before working with a computer you should be clearly aware of what is color, shape, figure and space, otherwise the computer will dominate your senses.
This is a complicated question. I know that creativity is often seen as a process or some kind of algorithm. But it’s much more complex and subtle than that. The point is that everything is already there in our brain. And the whole question is how you get access to it and what you yourself believe in.
For example, if you believe that in order to make a logo, it takes you two days, because first you make a sketch, then you look, think, correct, then you look again, then it takes you two days. It’s a conscious process. Your faith in the methodology will sustain you.
And if you believe that you can make a logo in 20 minutes, because it’s already there in your head, and you only have to transfer it to paper, then you will make a logo in 20 minutes. It’s more of an unconscious process.
I rely mostly on the unconscious in my work. I’ve spent so many years of conscious work to be able to work intuitively now. Generally, my creative process is quite vague. Sometimes I make the final version right away. And sometimes it takes me weeks before I’m satisfied with the result.
About the famous logo
For me, the process of creating a logo is one of the most boring. There are much more entertaining things to do. But at the time, I needed the money and so I did it.
When making a logo, we always want it to be memorable, fresh, uncomplicated, and, at the same time, to have a hidden meaning, to have an idea which people can discern. This is a recipe for a good logo.
That’s exactly what this logo turned out to be. You have to translate it for yourself because the heart is synonymous with the word “love” and a symbol of feelings, and NY is the initials of the city. Either way, a logo is always a little more than just beautifully written words.
Of course, if you’re a genius, you don’t need any school. But unfortunately, there aren’t many geniuses in the universe. So, everyone needs an education. In order to spend your life doing something, you have to learn it.
In general, I think it’s very important for a person to keep learning even after they’ve graduated from school. You have to keep your mind open to new knowledge. And also, it is very difficult to become a good professional without a good education. I could be wrong, but I haven’t seen that yet.
About the future
I just live day by day. And I hope that every day I will do what I have to do on that particular day. I can’t know right now what the future holds. The future for me is definitely about working with people that I enjoy working with and doing what I am interested in doing.