Milton Glaser: “Do no harm”

In this short documentary by Poppy de Villeneuve for “The New York Times”, Milton Glaser says a “Hippocratic Oath” of design has guided his work.

Shot in Milton Glaser’s New York City studio this short documentary by The New York Times captures Glaser talking about the early days of New York Magazine (“We didn’t know what we were doing”), “I ❤  NY” and being commissioned to do nudes in kindergarten.

He is obsessed with drawing and always has been, he says: “I knew that I was obsessed with drawing as a child and that it was the source of my greatest pleasure,” Glaser says.  “Actually that has persisted till this very day.”

On the birth of the “I ❤ NY” logo in 1977 Glaser says: “It was a very bad, very grey, very threatening time for New York.” The city was in a slump and needed to be revived.

Bill Doyle, who worked for New York State at the time as the Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Commerce, commissioned Glaser to do a marketing campaign to uplift the citizens of the city. In a meeting Doyle said, “I love New York!”, an exclamation that became the springboard for the campaign.

Thinking about his brief in a cab, Glaser drew “I ❤ NY” on an old envelope, a flash of insight that he thought captured “an expression that people felt” and went on to become a pop icon.

Although many of his designs have gone on to be hugely successful for brands such as Brooklyn Breweries, Columbia Records and the Julliard School. Glaser has always made no bones about where his interests lie: “Design has an impact on society and that that impact can be beneficial is much more significant to me than design as a selling tool.”

“I’m hoping that that idea about what the primary role of design is in culture prevails and if I had a legacy that would be the legacy that I hope would continue.”