Milton Glaser: Design as a Meditation on Love

The celebrated graphic designer, Milton Glaser, died on June 26, his 91st birthday.

The chance to design something that could spark cultural change gave Glaser a reason to get up each morning. “I have a secret,” he wrote in a book about his poster-design work. “All my life I’ve wanted my work to go beyond professionalism and enter the world of art. Every time I get a poster assignment, I hope that after I solve the client’s problem, I might be able to solve mine. Persian rugs and Chinese ceramics, among many other things, prove it’s possible.”

Ultimately, Glaser’s life was a meditation on the nature of love. Earning an audience’s favor was the electricity that coursed through his work. “The key to designing magazines and supermarkets is affection,” he told me. ‘You have to make people feel that they like it, in a personal way. The emotional dimension of communication is very powerful.” Conjuring love for an evil brand or enterprise is the ethical reckoning every designer must face, as Glaser outlines in his 2004 essay Ambiguity and Truth.

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