Another Legend, Another Lesson

October 8, 2011 § 2 Comments

Milton Glaser is Graphic Design and Illustration.

Referred to as the design industry’s “icon”, he truly is the Master, who long ago reached the pinnacles of success. With intelligence, passion and integrity (and amazing talent!) he’s stayed fresh and irrevocably admired well into his 80’s.

Talk about longevity, he’s it. His work inspires millions, his discipline influences countless students. He’s done it all, exceptionally well.

And just the other day, he posted this picture on his Facebook page, which I thought was pretty neat. I looked through the comments, remarks of honest admiration. What do you say to this, after all?

1976 concept sketch for I ♥ NY / © Milton Glaser

But this simplest of “sketches” is more than a cool memento. It serves as a reminder of the raw power of an idea. And what we do or don’t do with it.

Ideas can come in an instant, we all know that. The key seems to be whether we acknowledge or dismiss that instant. And in the next breath, whether we grab a pen and the nearest scrap of paper, napkin, gum wrapper, and jot it down.

What happens after that has a lot to do with the validity of the concept, the practicalities, the applications, the creative development. And lots of those “sudden insights” end up in our own sort of slush pile.

But sometimes…. it’s golden.

So thank you Milton for this humbling image, reminding us to give ideas the light of day, the freedom to breathe, roam, and define themselves.

Draw it, write it, sketch it, record it. … do it!


Some Thoughts on Illustration

March 5, 2011 § 5 Comments

© Patricia Saxton

Maybe because I’m in the thralls of illustrating another book, or maybe because of a letter I recently received from a Savannah College of Art student  .. or maybe that combined with the Teen Arts Show I critiqued last night… or maybe, it’s just me and that thoughts of illustration are never far off and it seems a good time to say a few things.

So here we go.

Illustration is about illustrating. No kidding, you say. But unless you’re talking about technical illustration, or maybe medical illustration (although, to be fair, even within these more structured realms you’ll find varying degrees of expression) illustration is really about the illustrating of ideas.

It’s not about drawing or painting, tools, colors or style. These have a gigantic impact ~ but alone, they do not tell the story.

In the old days, to illustrate literally meant “to illuminate”.  I like to think of illustrating as a creating a visual voice. So, while drawing may be the most common foundation, illustrations need to say something. Explain. Expound. Express. Something pertinent.

I spent countless hours of my youth drawing. Everything in sight. I knew I had “talent”, but didn’t think I was “creative”. Give me a toaster and I’d draw the best damn toaster you’d ever seen. But could I make the toaster clever? Could I make it intriguing, or would it just be a fine toaster? I had doubts.

Then one day the veil broke. Or maybe it was a dam. Either way, I passed through “ability” into a place where creativity flowed more freely.

It might work the other way around for some people, but however we get there, an illustrator needs to a.) think conceptually and b.) have command of their style(s) so that their work exhibits a steady, reliable quality.

A sense of design is also marvelously valuable (how will an illustration look on a page in relation to text and/or other elements?).

Being dependable and trustworthy is another handy trait, especially if one wants repeat work.

And then, you need to pack a sense of humor in your bag ~ not necessarily towards the art itself (unless meant to be funny), but towards the process… because things happen, people happen, emotions happen, mistakes happen. Half of life (if not more) is attitude.

Now for the show… Just a handful of some well-known (and fantastic) illustrators who’ve consistently made great work, paved the way, inspired others, touched lives and even earned a living doing so.

More Milton: On Drawing and Thinking

April 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

This is wonderful. The way he articulates the connection between seeing and thinking touches on the very essence of what every illustrator has probably felt at some point – myself included.

In this short video by C. Coy, designer Milton Glaser draws a picture of Shakespeare while talking about the ways that drawing helps him think and perceive: “for me, drawing has always been a primary way of encountering reality.”

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Milton Glaser On Using Design To Make Ideas New

April 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

TED Talks (Ideas Worth Spreading) is one of my all-time favorite sources for Great Stuff.  So imagine my delight to find this video of one of my all-time favorite people there as well.

Of course, it’s really no surprise to find Milton Glaser among the TED archives, but I’d not seen this one before. (For those of you outside of the design world, Milton Glaser is the living, legendary icon of the graphic design and illustration world; the guru, the master. A glance at his bio will give you a good overview.)

Having regretfully missed seeing him this week in New York for the launch of his new book, Drawing Is Thinking, this was a sort of virtual, substitute visit.

Milton is a marvel. A man of superior intellect and talent, with a wonderfully unassuming manner for someone of his stature. And as if we need any more proof, he recently received the National Medal of Arts – the first designer to achieve this recognition.

In his 80’s now, he recently told me he’d work as long as he can. Which, as I see it, is lucky for us.

Enjoy the “visit”. He’s a voice, and a mind, infinitely worth hearing.


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