Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Milton Glaser, The Great Design Generalist


Design is an amazing field. Noy only do you create, but you are constantly inspired by nature, trends, designers, their work and theories. Constant insipiration helps a designer generate more ideas, it motivates to go beyond limits and rules "to create".
As a Graphic Design student at NID, I used to read about legendary graphic designers, among whom, Milton Glaser influenced me the most and still does. The most attractive philosophy behind his designs is to project "the functional aspect of the graphic design", keeping intact the aesthetic nuances behind his creations. I recently bought a book named, "Creativity_Unconventional Wisdom from 20 Accomplished Minds". And among these 20 minds, the contribution by Glaser just had to be there.
Some of his thoughts
"Creativity", used frequently, is often not very carefully defined. It also exists as a noun, "the creatives", which is an abomination. It is too complex to be reduced to catch a simple idea.
Then, "What is Creativity?" actually? There are two kinds of people practising creativity. One, who invent or discover things/theories that never existed before. Two, the smart people who constantly thrive on other peoples' ideas. Majority of studios and art agencies are full of non-creative people. Its very clever to know what to steal from other designers. The true creative one relentlessly works to invent a vocabulary and a perception that has almost no precedent.
Design is by "the people-for the people". Hence, as a designer one has to always deal with, "What does your audience understand?", followed by, "How much new would be acceptable to your audience?" New ideas will always have constraints. When people talk about a new idea, one must ask, "Is it new or simply an old idea resurfaced a bit?"
Creativity, a survival mechanism
For some, "supression" from time to time nurtures their creative powers. For others, constant expression works far better. Professionalism versus creativity is a debatable issue. Certain jobs are to be done in certain ways. To explain, for instance, one cannot expect a car mechanic to br creative and invent a new way to repair one's car.
Professionalism discourages transgression because transgression encompases the possibility of failures and if one wants to be a professional, the instinct should be not to fail. It is to repeat success.

Where do new ideas come from?
Glaser says that he does exercises with students which depend on mind reading and the realization that we don't know what we know. Just by going through a book on Coptic painting, one will have hundred ideas about how to interpret it and use it for some purposes. Ideas come from everywhere.
Milton Glaser takes his constant inspiration from reading about other things- anthropology, behaviour and brain structure. According to him, "Ideas seem to come from own personal histories, those of other generations, and the visual history of the world."
Glaser, The Design Educationaist, coins a universal code for any design activity in any subject:
1. Identify your Audience
2. Clarify your Message - What is it you want to tell them to do?
3. Decide on how that message can be most effectively shaped in terms of style, technique and
medium.

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