An Intimate Portrait of the Designer Behind 'I ♥ NY'

A film, now out on DVD, shows how Milton Glaser, one of the most famous living graphic designers, has "informed and delighted"

Milton Glaser is one of the greatest graphic designers alive today, and a longtime favorite around here. From his iconic I ♥ NY logo to his prolific newspaper and magazine designs, logos, brand identities, posters, and other celebrated visual ephemera, Glaser is as revered for his exceptional visual output as he is for his thoughtful reflections on the role of design at large. His work, equal parts playful and poignant, explores the intersection of form and light to inform and delight, these being the purpose of art as defined by Ancient Roman poet Horace.

That's the inspiration behind the title of the fantastic 2008 documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight, a remarkable debut by first-time filmmaker Wendy Keys. The film, now out on DVD, iTunes, and Amazon Instant Video (free for Amazon Prime members, bless), offers an unprecedented glimpse of the ordinary moments of Glaser's personal life, his creative process, and the cross-pollination between the two, revealing the genuine humility, warmth, and extraordinary intelligence of a modern-day Renaissance man.

"I have made nothing on I [heart] New York, ever. There've been no cash rewards as a consequence of doing it. On the other hand, it really makes me feel very, very proud to have taken part in that shift in the city's consciousness from being indifferent to itself to realizing, 'We love this place.'" —Milton Glaser

"As the creator of I ♥ NY and the moving sequel that followed 9/11, he may be the best-known graphic designer in the world. But they don't begin to even hint at the impact and significance of Milton Glaser's work. He's taken the gifts he had to start with and developed them along a dazzling variety of lines that have influenced every serious designer I can think of, and that have materially affected the way we get information, the way we buy things and, in fact, the things that we buy." —Ralph Caplan, design writer

With reflections from some of today's most acclaimed design critics and direct footage of Glaser himself talking about everything from humorous anecdotes of the 1960s to the problem-solving capacity of the brain to the profound impact music has had on his life and process, To Inform & Delight is an essential piece of creative history and will inform and will delight. (Amazon also has the beautiful poster for the film, based on Glaser's iconic 1967 Bob Dylan poster, at 90 percent off.)

"I [internalized] this idea that it didn't matter whether I was called an artist or a designer or an illustrator or whatever else it was. The core value was always the act of making things, and the transformation of an idea that you hold in your mind that becomes real or material. That, to me, still is the glory of any creative activity." —Milton Glaser



This post also appears on Brain Pickings.
Via Ruth Ann; Image: Arthouse Films

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Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow.

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