BYU Today

Inside the Mind of Milton Glaser


Glaser's iconic poster was distributed worldwide with Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits in 1967.

Glaser’s iconic poster was distributed worldwide with Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits in 1967.

Milton Glaser, designer of the ubiquitous  logo, is arguably one of the most iconic and most imitated graphic designers in America. Examples of his work, which run the gamut from album posters for Bob Dylan to studies of the paintings of Piero della Francesca, hung in the BYU Museum of Art during summer and fall 2006 in an exhibition titled Just Enough Is More: The Graphic Design of Milton Glaser. The following quotes are from an address given by Glaser at BYU on Sept. 28, 2006.

Perpetual Learning

I go to work every morning with the possibility that I might learn something I don’t already know. . . . If you look at a problem as an opportunity to show what you already know, it’s useless. You should look at every problem and think, “What can I learn by doing this?” And if you think you can learn nothing, forget about doing it.

Harmony of Words and Images

I have become increasingly interested in words, because I think words are images. I don’t see a separation between words and images. I think the right three words can create as much imagery as any motion picture.

Primacy of Drawing

I am a great believer in the primacy of drawing as a means of engaging the world and understanding what you’re looking at.

Drawing is Seeing

I was sitting in front of my mother one night at the age of 17 or 18, and I looked at her and thought, “I’d like to do her portrait.” I’d never done her portrait before. And you know what happens when your mind shifts into drawing mode—you suddenly see something for the first time. And I realized as I decided to draw that I had absolutely no idea what she looked like. The image of her appearance had impressed itself on my mind probably when I was 3 years old, and it hadn’t changed very much. I was able to see her only because I made the decision to draw her.

Defining Design

Design is simply planning. My definition of design is this: it is going from an existing position to a preferred one. It’s everything.

See samples of Glaser’s work at miltonglaser.com.