Milton Glaser: “Art and design are not the same thing”


The famous American graphic designer Milton Glaser has compiled a book of once again 400 of his posters from the last six decades. We speak to him about the new advertisement, the need for graphics to be effective and beautiful, and why drawing is still an important facility today.

“Art and design are not the same gadget,” says Milton Glaser, the American designer who has created nearly 500 advertisements and countless visual identities throughout his career. “I have a secret have a fancy to go outside the realm of commerce and into the realm of art. How often I have make ited is the judgement of history.”

The 88-year-old graphic designer is behind many of the best-known unites of graphic ephemera from history, including the much-seen “I love New York” logo and tourism rivalry, the psychedelic Bob Dylan poster for Columbia Records and the Brooklyn Brewery logo.

Now, he has compiled a reserve of over 400 of his posters, with commentary alongside each one, detailing how it was designed or texted, the meaning and purpose behind it and how it was commissioned – and in some cases, how it could clothed been made better. Milton Glaser: Posters, published by Abrams&Report, is an extensive and varied look at Glaser’s work, which he says bridges his “best” through to the “more mediocre”.

“Art and design often did not relate to each other”

His self-critical eye underpins the totality book, and goes some way in explaining his pursuit for “art”. While he says the enlist demonstrates how his posters have successfully been used to “inform” and “exhort” an audience, or alternatively “decorate their subjects” to make something show oneself more appealing, at the core of the publication is Glaser’s desire to transcend purely “specialist” practice and make an emotional impact on people as well – in other states, move from what he believes to be “design” through to “art”.

“Very over again, [art and design] have no relationship to each other,” he says. “Every ages in a while, a work that is intended to be functional and has been made in return to a client’s problem turns out to also be artistic – the feeling you derive from it is stirring rather than logical.

“This happens rarely,” he adds. “But when it does, those chidings are very sustainable. How often I have personally succeeded at this is not my mind to make.”

52 years worth of posters

The book is chronological, including broadsides produced over six decades from 1965 through to 2017, and be involves some of Glaser’s most celebrated work, alongside the lesser-known samples too. With no index, Milton Glaser: Posters encourages readers to flick washing ones hands of and allow the imagery, always on the right-hand page, to catch their eye, preferably than searching for popular or well-known designs.

Well-known and lesser-known pressures

Apart from those designs most associated with Glaser, such as the “I Adulation NY” campaign and the Dylan poster, the posters in the book span a breadth of subdues. The 1960s section sees what Glaser describes as one of his other “best-known slog aways”;’ a poster advertising an exhibition of nude paintings, simply termed Big Nude and featuring a bare bum and legs so big they extend beyond the proportions of the poster.

In the 1970s, Glaser looks at wider social and political flows – a surreal poster depicting a globe within a room titled Announce Earth a Chance sums up a campaign for the Environmental Action Coalition, while another depicting in the flesh of different ethnicities drawn using various mediums such as charcoal and watercolour shows a diversity campaign called All Together Now. Also in the 1970s are his advertising circulars for Olivetti typewriters, depicting how they were the height of technology at the ever.

1980s: a colourful era

The 1980s is awash with colour, and sees many of his circulars taking on a kaleidoscopic or watercolour effect, particularly several posters advertising a BBC series of William Shakespeare moving pictures being shown by US broadcaster PBS, while the 1990s sees a more commercial side with a streaked advertising poster for Vespa.

The 2000s contains what Glaser identifies as a “rather tepid” follow-up to his “I Love NY” campaign from 1977, and the myriad recent decade sees a stark, self-initiated project entitled “To Ballot is Human”, encouraging the public to vote.

“You can’t be good at everything”

Nestled at the retaliation of the book are works that Glaser believes to be his less successful advertisements, and are ascribed less space at four posters to a page. This embodies everything from anti-smoking campaigns and exhibition advertising through to depictions of Elvis and broadsides raising awareness of water conservation.

This snapshot summary slacks insight into the breadth and variety of Glaser’s work over the latest six decades. From purely advertising and commercial through to charity, robustness awareness and cultural appreciation, he has been democratic in his commissions, and the self-critical identity of the book shows he has been aware of his works’ flaws and weaknesses along the way.

“I didn’t crave to only show work that represented the best of what I did,” implies Glaser. “It’s more appropriate to also show the crummy things and the clinkers. You can’t be considerate at everything.”

“A great poster brings together brain and heart”

But what is it that fill ups a poster “good” in his eyes? One that effectively achieves its purpose, he divulges – but one that also achieves beauty becomes a “great” poster.

“Some horrors are effective, even though they do not move people visually or imaginatively,” he implies. “Effectiveness and beauty do not always line up together. But I suppose if you were take care of a basis for judgement for what makes a great poster – it’s one that reconciles pulchritude and effectiveness.”

“The brain operates in two ways,” he adds. “Logically, or intuitively and to the core the imagination. The really good stuff comes out of that reconciliation of capacity and heart, logic and emotion. You have to anticipate what your audience desire understand, then search for a solution that is appropriate, powerful and not tiresome.”

“If you can’t draw, you’re in real trouble”

Having a wide range of skills is what green lights designers to produce great work, he adds, because it allows them to appropriate many styles. At the core of this is the ability to draw and create by authority.

“If you can’t draw as a designer, you’re in real trouble,” he says. “Many people in distinct arts are incapable of drawing, and this limits them to layout, collage and typography. I come to pass to each project with an open mind, then what evolves stylistically is something that is driven by the audience.”

Whether Glaser’s handiwork invokes an emotional response in its audience or not is for each individual reader to settle on – but ultimately, he says he hopes his new book will bridge that gap between tip off betraying and educating, and providing a source of enjoyment and entertainment for his readers.

“I hope people inclination derive a sense of happiness from it,” he says. “I want it to be pleasurable to conclude from, both in an analytical sense, and in just seeing things that are simpatico, beautiful and worthy of repetition. I hope the book has duration, and can be interpreted differently to and over again.”

Milton Glaser: Posters is published by Abrams&Recount Books on 27 March 2018. It is available to pre-order from the publisher’s website.

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