Milton Glaser has defied convention since beginning his career as a designer instead of a fine artist. Today, of course, design is all the rage but at the time, Glaser says, it was thought of as purely commercial, an insult to the fine artists of the world. Still, Milton didn’t see his purpose as selling private works for people’s apartments. He wanted to do work in the public, work that would be seen and admired. Design writer Ralph Caplan says: “[Glaser] materially affected the way we get information, the way we buy things and, in fact, the things that we buy.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Glaser has helped define the transition of the archetypal artist in the 20th century from painter to designer. Yet these are categories he has been cautious of throughout his career: “I [internalized] this idea that it didn’t matter whether I was called an artist or a designer or an illustrator or whatever else it was. The core value was always the act of making things, and the transformation of an idea that you hold in your mind that becomes real or material. That, to me, still is the glory of any creative activity.”