Friday, March 30, 2012

Designer of the Month: Milton Glaser

Week 4: identity

Milton Glaser, Brooklyn Brewery Logo, 1987. Courtesy of Milton Glaser, Inc.

On the first Friday of the month, I showed you Milton Glaser's most famous work, an image that has been described as ‘the most frequently imitated logo design in human history.’[1] Today, we're going to look at some of Glaser's other identity work, starting with Brooklyn Brewery. It may not have the same ubiquity of I Love NY, but it's recognition, especially in New York, is indisputable. As Glaser explains about the experience of designing the brand's identity:
The name 'Brooklyn' suggested, among other things, the 'Dodgers,' the baseball team still associated with Brooklyn many years after they treacherously decamped for Los Angeles. The partners wanted their label to have a European appearance to differentiate it from popular American beers and to suggest their commitment to a more complex and interesting product. I designed a 'B' that looked as though it belonged on a Dodger uniform. Actually, the lettering on the real uniforms was quite straight forward, but through some trick of memory, most people recall it looking like this logo. The logo was applied to their packaging, promotional material, T-shirts, and tricks; and in 1996 to the front of the first brewery to be built in Brooklyn in more than thirty years. They now produce 12 kinds of beer with significant success. Nice guys, great beer.[2] 
Is Brooklyn Brewery beer as pervasive in other parts of the country as it is here? It may be because I live only a 20 minute walk away from the brewery, but it's pretty much a guarantee that if you go to buy beer in the city, Brooklyn Brewery is always an option. 

Milton Glaser, Stony Brook University Logo. Courtesy of Milton Glaser, Inc.

Another of Glaser's identity projects that I'm particularly fond of is the branding for Stony Brook University, a project that lasted 8 years and involved all aspects of campus life, from communication and signage to advertising and publications.[3] In addition to a comprehensive color scheme - seen in the logo and repeated throughout the campus - Glaser created a series of harmonizing circular shapes that are repeated in design elements on campus signage, such as a mural of bicycle racers for the student lounge whose wheels rotate to produce both the appearance of motion and different color effects.[4]

Milton Glaser, Angels in America Logo, 1993. Courtesy of Milton Glaser, Inc.

Among his identity work, Glaser's designed logos and branding for a wide variety of organizations, and has been recognized for this and his other design projects with a plethora of professional accolades and awards. Additionally, Glaser is represented in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institute, and the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, among others.[5] It's quite an achievement for a graphic designer; then again, there are few quite like Glaser. Which is why, to end this month's Designer of the Month, I wanted to share with you an except from a speech that Glaser gave at the AIGA Design Legends Gala in 2004, with his advice on the design profession:
Two weeks ago I developed a sudden, painful wrist condition...My wrist is fine but while I was in the doctor’s office I noticed a document on his wall called "What A Surgeon Ought to Be" written in the 14th century. I’ve changed a word or two but it seems like good advice for our profession.

What the Designer Ought to Be: Let the designer be bold in all sure things, and fearful in dangerous things; let him avoid all faulty treatments and practices. He ought to be gracious to the client, considerate to his associates, cautious in his prognostications. Let him be modest, dignified, gentle, pitiful, and merciful; not covetous nor an extortionist of money; but rather let his reward be according to his work, to the means of the client, to the quality of the issue, and to his own dignity.[6]
It may be idealistic, but it's just the sort of remarks that have made Glaser one of the most prolific thinkers, writers and educators on the topic of design today. For more on Glaser, including my personal favorite essay, be sure to visit the Milton Glaser, Inc. website.

[1] Milton Glaser, Inc., online, "Milton: Biography,", (accessed March 29, 2012).

[2] Milton Glaser, "Identity," from Art is Work, (Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc., 2000), 232. 

[3] Milton Glaser, Inc., online, "Case Studies: Case Study #11, Stony Brook University,", (accessed March 29, 2012).

[4] Milton Glaser, "Identity," from Art is Work, (Woodstock, NY: The Overlook Press, Peter Mayer Publishers, Inc., 2000), 217.

[5] Milton Glaser, Inc., online, "Milton: Biography,", (accessed March 29, 2012).

[6] Milton Glaser, Inc., online, "Essays: AIGA Design Legends Speech,", (accessed March 29, 2012).

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