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Juanita Berge | Philly Creative Guide Event Reporter

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight
by Juanita Berge, 1 Nov 2009

On Thursday, October 8, as part of the Design Philadelphia week of events, the movie, Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight, was shown at Drexel University’s Mitchell Auditorium in the Bossone Center. Milton Glaser, in case you are unaware, is a star in the graphic design world. Throughout his career he has had a major impact on contemporary illustration and design. He enjoys a large, international reputation. To Inform and Delight sought to examine the impact and significance of his work.


Glaser ruminates in the film, saying “Drawing is my essential resource.” Drawing is, in fact, how Glaser relates to the world. He has a proposed book title in the works called Drawing Is Thinking. “I don’t see the process of eating and drawing as different kinds of experiences,” he continues. In his lifelong quest to define what art really is to him, he happened upon a quote by the ancient Roman poet Horace that suited him, “The purpose of art is to inform and delight.” Hence the film’s title. With that in mind, Glaser believes art is whatever a particular generation determines it is.

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

For many, Milton Glaser is the personification of American graphic design. He’s probably known best for the ubiquitous I ? NY campaign and co-founding New York Magazine with Clay Felker in 1968. Having worked non-stop for over forty-five years, the span of Glaser's astonishing creative output of hundreds of posters and prints, newspaper and magazine designs, interior spaces, logos, and brand identities is revealed in this documentary portrait.

Glaser, now entering his senior years, yet still quite active, was very forthcoming about the genesis of his talent and his various muses. His beloved jazz was a constant backdrop to the movie and he mentioned many of his favorite artists. “I think I can create the same kind of emotional response in graphics that music has,” Glaser remarked, and he showed various posters from his early years as examples of that while jazz played in the background. His iconic Bob Dylan poster was presented, with his commentary, “I think I just amplified whatever was present already in the culture.” That one poster served as a watermark in the graphics design culture of the moment. One colleague observed that psychedelia exists in the design world because of him.

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

In 1954 Glaser, with several of his Cooper Union classmates, formed Push Pin Studios. Though revolutionary at the time, Glaser felt there had ultimately developed a ‘Push Pin’ style, and had become almost cliché. Feeling he had to redefine himself, Glaser left to begin anew. He started his own studio, Milton Glaser, Inc., in 1974. He enjoyed working on a wide array of projects, citing his work with Grand Union supermarkets as some of his best work. “That was design aimed at the masses, not at some thin, esoteric layer of individuals. That was design that made life better for lots of people,” he observed.

Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight

Colleagues of Glaser’s speak to his need to produce applied design. Says one former student, “To have spent time with him and not to feel a responsibility to life would have been not paying attention. He never says it but we’re not designing objects – we’re redesigning the world.”

The movie highlights Glaser’s work on Brooklyn Beer, Gundel Restaurant, LaGuardia Arts School, the Rubin Museum of Art, his humanist button series and Fortune magazine. In 1973 Glaser published Milton Glaser: Graphic Design, the first graphic design monograph, and in 2000, Art Is Work.

Print Article  Brought to you by: Juanita Berge | Philly Creative Guide Event Reporter

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