Outside of the Box with Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser didn’t plan on becoming a revolutionary force in the design world. But planned or not, that’s exactly what happened. As became evident while watching the film “To Inform and Delight,” Glaser has the kind of mind that doesn’t come around very often. Not only is he a creative genius, but he works in a way that makes his genius seem effortless. But even more importantly, the way that he thinks is completely different than the way of everyone else around him. And he doesn’t think differently to be “edgy” or “revolutionary,” or even “artistic.” The nuances of his mind give way to something that is unlike everyone who came before him. When everyone swims right, he swims left. But then, when everybody turns around and follows him to the left, he dives under the water and comes up headed in a completely different direction than anyone had been swimming before.

“I don’t want to become a style.”

During the documentary, this was one of my favorite quotes from Glaser. This small remark held a lot of weight in my mind, as I felt it defined exactly why he has become so successful. Unlike many artists, Glaser doesn’t design to become iconic. He doesn’t plan for fame and he doesn’t strive for recognition. In fact, that’s exactly what he doesn’t want. He doesn’t want people to look at a piece of art and immediately know that it came from his hand. He wants to push boundaries, not only the boundaries set by the art world, but also those that he sets for himself.

This idea from the documentary made me think about my own work and the boundaries that I set for myself within my designs. Like many designers, I often fall victim to the routine of reusing old ideas in a different way and calling them new designs. Often I don’t even realize that I’m doing this, until I look at a few of my works side by side and realize the similarities that can be found between them. For my poster design, this is exactly what happened to me. I had designed a draft that I felt was a strong representation of my work, using some design techniques with which I felt very comfortable. However, eventually I realized that I was falling into a style. So, I tried again and designed something that was dramatically different than most of my other projects, something with which I felt a little less comfortable at first. And I think it came out much better than anything I’ve designed before.

While it may not happen every time, the best ideas come from outside of your comfort zone. This film reminded me of this, not only in a design sense but as an overall piece of life advice. So in the next projects in this class, as well as in my personal projects and work for other classes, I am hoping to step out of my comfort zone and push my own boundaries.


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