Milton Glaser has many unique opinions on what makes art, art. In the documentary he stated that he views graphic design as a puzzle, in which the artist must find the most efficient way to reach their audience. He does this by finding the design that best suits the message itself, and which is most receptive to the audience it aims to impact. This is how he brainstormed the legendary “I <3 New York” symbol. Glaser created a simple yet powerful symbol that encapsulates a feeling, which transforms the “I <3 New York” design into a movement.
One of the most interesting aspects of this documentary was Glaser’s outlook on the purpose of design. I was very interested when he mentioned that one of his most educational jobs was working for a supermarket, because he had to create designs that could resonate with the average American. Communication is the fundamental aspect of graphic design, which should act “in the service of our culture”, according to Glaser.
Each of these points that Glaser makes are powerful, and have made a big impression on me. His belief in design as a puzzle, as a feeling, and as a service to our culture are all purposes of design I had not yet carefully considered. These purposes of design elevate the previous notion of commercial art as simple pandering to a customer into much more. Graphic design and commercial art become a responsibility, which should communicate effectively to their audiences. Glaser believes that “art is art”, and there should be no clear divide between commercial and fine art, because all art serves a purpose and represents a meaning.