His presence is so integral to American iconography that even those who have never heard the name will instantly recognize the work of graphic designer Milton Glaser. Glaser's manifold accomplishments, exhibiting a vast array of styles and approaches, include the "I [Heart] NY" campaign, the multicolored menus at the Rainbow Room, and the now-iconic album covers by Townes Van Zandt, Nina Simone, Lightnin' Hopkins, and many other artists, and literally scores of other accomplishments -- making him not only ...
His presence is so integral to American iconography that even those who have never heard the name will instantly recognize the work of graphic designer Milton Glaser. Glaser's manifold accomplishments, exhibiting a vast array of styles and approaches, include the "I [Heart] NY" campaign, the multicolored menus at the Rainbow Room, and the now-iconic album covers by Townes Van Zandt, Nina Simone, Lightnin' Hopkins, and many other artists, and literally scores of other accomplishments -- making him not only synonymous with graphic design in the U.S., but a veritable godfather of pop-culture publicity. As helmed by neophyte director Wendy Keys, Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight introduces audiences to the legendary creator, with glimpses of his exhaustive portfolio, and candid discussions revealing his intelligence, insight, sense of humor, and boundless creative spirit.
Milton Glaser is arguably the world's best-known figure in a field that has few real stars, graphic design. If Milton Glaser's name isn't familiar to you, his work certainly is -- he designed the "I [Heart] New York" logo that's been reprinted, parodied, and appropriated all over the world, and there were few college dorms or hipster hangouts in the mid-'60s that weren't decorated with Glaser's famous Bob Dylan poster, with the Voice of His Generation represented in a dark silhouette with rainbow-colored curls sprouting from his scalp. Glaser was also a co-founder of New York magazine; helped run The Village Voice for a time; has drawn or designed countless book and magazine covers, record album jackets, promotional posters and corporate logos; and has even designed successful restaurants and supermarkets, from the layout of the room down to the menus and signage. If ever there were a figure in American design who deserved to be the subject of a film, it's Glaser, and filmmaker Wendy Keys has stepped forward to give the artist a feature-length profile in the documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight. Beyond the importance of his work, Glaser is an engaging subject who clearly loves his work and enjoys talking about it, which is the best thing about To Inform and Delight. From the film's first moments, in which Glaser recalls with a chuckle that he was popular in the neighborhood when he was a kid because he could readily draw naked women to his friends' specifications, he's a man fascinated with the creative process and seems truly thrilled by the fact he gets to immerse himself in it on so many levels. It's clear that Glaser has a tremendous respect for fine art, but he enjoys that his work is enjoyed by people in a less rarefied atmosphere; he can talk about the finer points of design in academic terms, but he's just as enthusiastic about the logo and packaging he created for a microbrewery in Brooklyn, and takes genuine pride in the notion that he's made going to the market a more enjoyable experience for people thanks to his designs. Glaser gets a real twinkle in his eye when he and his friends talk about his work and its possibilities, and his enthusiasm lifts up the whole film. Glaser is a great subject for a movie -- good enough, in fact, that it's hard not to wish that Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight told us a bit more about him. Director Wendy Keys lets us spend 73 quality minutes with the man and his art, but her approach is so scattershot that we get only the most cursory perspective on his background, his rise to fame, and the timeline of the events in his career. Keys seems to assume a certain degree of knowledge about Glaser and his work from her audience, which isn't wise -- Glaser may be a legend within his chosen profession, but that doesn't make him a household name. So while we know that he helped found New York magazine, we never really know when or with whom or how long he was involved with them he mentions selling New York to Rupert Murdoch without naming a date, and though the film touches on a restaurant guide he helped to compile and design, it's not the sort of thing viewers outside of New York City are likely to know about and isn't really explained, even if it gives Glaser a chance to wax rhapsodic about the joys of cheap neighborhood eateries in the Big Apple. The movie gives Glaser plenty of space to talk about his personal creative process and where his ideas come from without giving novices a clear picture of the process of going from a rough sketch to a final project. When Milton Glaser is on a roll and talking about something he likes which he does quite often in this film, it delights, but it would work a lot better if it informed a little more along the way.
Disc #1 -- Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight
1. Commercial vs Fine Art [2:42]
2. Posters/I Heart NY [6:23]
3. The Studio/NY Magazine [6:07]
4. Work Process [7:39]
5. Drawing is Thinking [9:51]
6. Bio [5:20]
7. Teaching [3:54]
8. Italy and Food [7:08]
9. Home and Children's Books [3:27]
10. Copper Wall and Spirituality [1:59]
11. Clients [9:09]
12. On the Side of the Light [9:31]