Forty years after Milton Glaser designed the iconic I ♥ NY logo in 1977, he’s still a vibrant fixture of the city’s creative fabric at 88-years-old. In addition to his psychedelic Bob Dylan poster—and many other poster designs and logos—for which he is revered, he was also c0-founder of Push Pin Studios and New York Magazine.
In celebration of his life’s work we look to a voice that has been wise to the advances of technology, even before we entered into such dependence on the virtual world.
In 1999, Pete Hamill interviewed Milton, who was then 70-years-old, at his East 32nd Street studio for Graphis Magazine issue 324.
Read on for an excerpt from the interview, “Milton Glaser: Taking the Long View,” in which he speaks to technology and imagines the future.
Graphis: Talk about the computer and its effect on design. Has it changed design the way it’s changed everything else?
Milton Glaser: Yes, but in ways that we don’t understand. In my classes, for the first time, young people are backing away from the computer. They’re saying that they have to be more judicious about how they use it. As a conceptual instrument, it’s not very helpful. It’s not great for thinking up ideas. There isn’t anything more powerful than the eyes, the brain, and the hand to think with. When you’re thinking, you do a sketch and it’s fuzzy. You have to keep it fuzzy. So the brain looks at it and imagines another iteration, which is a little clearer. Then you do another sketch, which sort of moves it along, but it’s still fuzzy. It may take a series of indeterminate solutions, before you get there.
But the computer crystalizes things too clearly. As soon as you think on a computer, you have to be precise. It has to be this color, this shape, and things become crystalized before you can go through a dialectic, the back and forth between the brain and the sketch. Which is the way the human species has learned to solve problems. By making things too clear, too soon, you lose something essential in the development of ideas.
Graphis: It’s certainly true of writing. I almost always now start longhand, because the hands have memory. They know stuff that, unless you start, you don’t know that you know.