Milton Glaser: "I Love New York"
Born in 1929, Milton Glaser is the creator of the "I Love New York" Logo. But he was already exhibiting at the MoMa before working for the Big Apple. He is the most admired graphic designer in the United States. Interview.
How does design affect people's lives?
It all depends on your definition of design: every human activity is design. You design when you put together a dish, an activity for your children, your own appearance. Design is a voluntary act that anyone can do. A decision to take what is to make something else out of it. It is also the result of that action. In the end, the real question to ask is who is in charge of a project or a decision. Design is inseparable from power.
How can an individual create this change?
A well-functioning democracy is one in which citizens feel they have the privilege, even the obligation, to change things: for example, to encourage the government to change a law when it is bad. But to achieve this, they must create the material to create that sense of change. The example of the "I love New York" logo is emblematic: it has provoked this sense of responsibility and change in the public. In my 60-year career, this project remains the most memorable. It has worked wonderfully for over 35 years.
"Design is inseparable from power.”
How do you explain this success?
A good logo has to be persuasive. The public reacts on the basis of a choice. To influence this choice, you have two levers: first the logical register, by choosing the colour, the font, the shape that seems to suit best. But this is not enough and explains why designers need an artistic education, able to bring the touch that will make a logo persuasive.
Could you give some other examples?
Sometimes a simple sentence or a picture can change the direction people are going in: the American flag is a very good example, for example. But the swastika is another. Repetition is good for a logo, but above all it has to be easy to remember. An individual must be able to recreate the image in his mind. Apple has managed to overshadow other companies that used an apple. Coca Cola is an extraordinary brand that everyone knows, while most people do not memorize the Pepsi logo.
What advice would you give to Luxembourg for its branding?
I have to tell you that people pay me huge sums of money to answer this question. (Laughs). Today, personally, I don't associate Luxembourg with anything specific. I will therefore start by amplifying some of the country's distinctive features. For example, if cheese is produced here, I will promote recipes, I will organise a cheese festival, tastings, a Cheese & Pickles day, etc. I would like people to like the concept, memorise it and tell their friends about it. The important thing is that people understand that visitors are welcome, while at the same time giving them ideas for visits. The logo would be the result of this careful consideration.
How do we get everyone to agree?
You have to choose the designer carefully. Take a talented artist. On the other hand, you have to use the elasticity of the people in charge of validation. Powerful people often think they know it all. You have to combine a fantastic creation with an open-minded audience.
Would there be any value in choosing a famous designer, like Starck or yourself for example?
Everyone has a show business side. A celebrity could bring a plus, but the most important thing is the quality of his work. You have to choose someone who is very talented.