Milton Glaser (RIP) Presents 10 Rules for Life & Work: Wisdom from the Celebrated Designer

“None of us has really the ability to understand our path until it’s over,” the celebrated graphic designer Milton Glaser (RIP) muses less than a minute into the above video.

Glaser’s many contributions to pop culture---the  I ❤ NY logo, the psychedelic portrait of a rainbow-haired Bob Dylan, DC Comics’ classic bullet logo---confer undeniable authority. To the outside eye, he seems to have had a pretty firm handle on the path he traveled for lo these many decades. Aspirant designers would do well to give extra consideration to any advice he might share.

As would the rest of us.

His “Ten Things I Have Learned,” originally delivered as part of a talk to the AIGA---a venerable membership organization for design professionals---qualifies as solid life advice of general interest.




Yes, the Internet spawns bullet-pointed tips for better living the way spring rains yield mushrooms, but Glaser, a self-described “child of modernism” who's still a contender, does not truck in pithy Instagram-friendly aphorisms. Instead, his list is born of reflection on the various turns of a long and mostly satisfying creative career.

We’ve excerpted some of his most essential points below, and suggest that those readers who are still in training give special emphasis to number seven. Don't place too much weight on number nine until you’ve established a solid work ethic. (See number four for more on that.)

MILTON GLASER”S TEN RULES FOR WORK AND LIFE (& A BONUS JOKE ABOUT A RABBIT).

1. YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE

Some years ago I realized that… all the work I had done that was meaningful and significant came out of an affectionate relationship with a client.

2. IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE NEVER HAVE A JOB

Here, Glaser quotes composer John CageNever have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age. 

3. SOME PEOPLE ARE TOXIC AVOID THEM.

Glaser recommends putting a questionable companion to a gestalt therapy test. If, after spending time with that person “you are more tired, then you have been poisoned. If you have more energy, you have been nourished. The test is almost infallible and I suggest that you use it for the rest of your life.”

4. PROFESSIONALISM IS NOT ENOUGH (or THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE GREAT)

Glaser concedes that a record of dependable excellence is something to look for in a brain surgeon or auto mechanic, but for those in the arts, “continuous transgression” is the quality to cultivate. Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success. 

5. LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE

I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. ‘Just enough is more.’

6. STYLE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED

Style change is usually linked to economic factors, as all of you know who have read Marx. Also fatigue occurs when people see too much of the same thing too often.

7. HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN

The brain is the most responsive organ of the body…. Thought changes our life and our behavior. I also believe that drawing works in the same way…. Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.

8. DOUBT IS BETTER THAN CERTAINTY

One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty. Schools encourage the idea of not compromising and defending your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usually all about the nature of compromise…. Ideally, making everyone win through acts of accommodation is desirable.

9. IT DOESN’T MATTER

Glaser credits essayist Roger Rosenblatt’s Rules for Aging (misidentifying the title as Aging Gracefully) with helping him articulate his philosophy here.  It doesn’t matter what you think. It does not matter if you are late or early, if you are here or there, if you said it or didn’t say it, if you are clever or if you were stupid. If you were having a bad hair day or a no hair day or if your boss looks at you cockeyed or your boyfriend or girlfriend looks at you cockeyed, if you are cockeyed. If you don’t get that promotion or prize or house or if you do – it doesn’t matter.

10. TELL THE TRUTH

It’s interesting to observe that in the new AIGA’s code of ethics there is a significant amount of useful information about appropriate behavior towards clients and other designers, but not a word about a designer’s relationship to the public. If we were licensed, telling the truth might become more central to what we do.

BONUS JOKE

A butcher was opening his market one morning and as he did a rabbit popped his head through the door. The butcher was surprised when the rabbit inquired ‘Got any cabbage?’ The butcher said ‘This is a meat market – we sell meat, not vegetables.’ The rabbit hopped off. The next day the butcher is opening the shop and sure enough the rabbit pops his head round and says ‘You got any cabbage?’ The butcher now irritated says ‘Listen you little rodent, I told you yesterday we sell meat, we do not sell vegetables and the next time you come here I am going to grab you by the throat and nail those floppy ears to the floor.’ The rabbit disappeared hastily and nothing happened for a week. Then one morning the rabbit popped his head around the corner and said ‘Got any nails?’ The butcher said ‘No.’ The rabbit said ‘Ok. Got any cabbage?’’

Read Milton Glaser’s “Ten Things I Have Learned” in its entirety here.

Note: This post originally appeared on our site in April 2017.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Exquisite 2300-Year-Old Scythian Woman’s Boot Preserved in the Frozen Ground of the Altai Mountains

Shoes and boots, show where your feet have gone. —Guy Sebeus, 10 New Scythian Tales 

In the age of fast fashion, when planned obsolescence, cheap materials, and shoddy construction have become the norm, how startling to encounter a stylish women’s boot that’s truly built to last…

…like, for 2300 years.

It helps to have landed in a Scythian burial mound in Siberia’s Altai Mountains, where the above boot was discovered along with a number of nomadic afterlife essentials—jewelry, food, weapons, and clothing.




These artifacts (and their mummified owners) were well preserved thanks to permafrost and the painstaking attention the Scythians paid to their dead.

As curators at the British Museum wrote in advance of the 2017 exhibition Scythians: Warriors of Ancient Siberia:

Nomads do not leave many traces, but when the Scythians buried their dead they took care to equip the corpse with the essentials they thought they needed for the perpetual rides of the afterlife. They usually dug a deep hole and built a wooden structure at the bottom. For important people these resembled log cabins that were lined and floored with dark felt – the roofs were covered with layers of larch, birch bark and moss. Within the tomb chamber, the body was placed in a log trunk coffin, accompanied by some of their prized possessions and other objects. Outside the tomb chamber but still inside the grave shaft, they placed slaughtered horses, facing east.

18th-century watercolor illustration of a Scythian burial mound. Archive of the Institute of Archaeology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St Petersburg

The red cloth-wrapped leather bootie, now part of the State Hermitage Museum's collection, is a stunner, trimmed in tin, pyrite crystals, gold foil and glass beads secured with sinew. Fanciful shapes—ducklings, maybe?—decorate the seams. But the true mindblower is the remarkable condition of its sole.

Speculation is rampant on Reddit, as to this bottom layer’s pristine condition:

Maybe the boot belonged to a high-ranking woman who wouldn’t have walked much…

Or Scythians spent so much time on horseback, their shoe leather was spared…

Or perhaps it’s a high quality funeral garment, reserved for exclusively post-mortem use…

The British Museum curators’ explanation is that Scythians seated themselves on the ground around a communal fire, subjecting their soles to their neighbors’ scrutiny.

Become better acquainted with Scythian boots by making a pair, as ancient Persian empire reenactor Dan D’Silva did, documenting the process in a 3-part series on his blog. How you bedazzle the soles is up to you.

via ArtifactsHub

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Construct Your Own Bayeux Tapestry with This Free Online App

A wise woman once quoth that one man’s adult coloring book is another’s Medieval Tapestry Edit.

If taking crayons to empty outlines of mandalas, floral patterns, and forest and ocean scenes has failed to calm your mind, the Historic Tale Construction Kit may cure what ails you.

Programmers Leonard Allain-Launay and Mathieu Thoretton and software engineer Maria Cosmina Etegan created the online kit as a tribute to a late, great, early 21st-century application designed by Academy of Media Arts Cologne students Björn Karnebogen and Gerd Jungbluth.




They separated out various elements of the Bayeux Tapestry, allowing you to freely mess around with 1000-year-old images of warriors, commoners, beasts, and buildings:

Craft thy own Bayeux Tapestry

Slay mischievous beasts

Rule the kingdom

Rotate, resize, clone

Choose a background, add some text in your choice of Bayeux or Augusta font and you’ll have done your bit to revive the fading art of the Medieval Macro (or meme.)

The original tapestry used some 224 feet of wool-embroidered linen to recount the Battle of Hastings and the events leading up to it.

You need not have such lofty aims.

Perhaps test the waters with a Father’s Day greeting, resizing and rotating until you feel ready to export as a PNG.

The interface is extremely user friendly, kind of like a tech-savvy 11th-century cousin of the online drag-and-drop graphic design tool, Canva.

The Historic Tale Construction Kit’s most impressive bells and whistles reside in the paintbrush tool in the lower left corner, which allows you to lay down great swaths of folks, birds, or corpses in a single sweep.

Your palette will be limited to the shades deployed by the Bayeux embroiderers, who obtained their colors from plants—dyer’s woadmadder, and dyer’s rocket (or weld).

The text, of course, is entirely up to you.

It pleased us to go with the eminently quotable David Bowie, and only after we groped our way into the three fledgling efforts you see above did we discover that we’re not the only ones.

Presenting Early Pre-Bowie References to "Space Oddity"


Throw on some Bardcore and begin reworking the Bayeux Tapestry with the Historic Tale Construction Kit here.

If you are interested in something a bit more technical, the designers have put the opensource code on GitHub for your customizing pleasure.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Why This Font Is Everywhere: How Cooper Black Became Pop Culture’s Favorite Font

You know Times New Roman, you know Helvetica, you know Comic Sans — and though you may not realize it, you know Cooper Black as well. Just think of the "VOTE FOR PEDRO" shirt worn in Napoleon Dynamite (and in real life for years thereafter), or a few decades earlier, the cover of Pet Sounds. In fact, the history of Cooper Black extends well before the Beach Boys' mid-1960s masterpiece; to see and hear the full story, watch the Vox video above. It begins, as narrator Estelle Caswell explains, in Chicago, at the turn of the 1920s when type designer Oswald Bruce Cooper created the series of fonts that bear his name. Nearly a century after the 1922 introduction of the variant Cooper Black, we see it everywhere, not just on album covers and T-shirts but storefronts, movie posters, and candy wrappers all over the world.

 

The evolution of printing, specifically the evolution from carved wood type to cast metal, made Cooper Black possible. Its distinctive look — and the curved edges that made it forgiving to imperfect printing processes — made it a hit. And when film strips replaced metal type, allowing the kind of closely-spaced printing that Cooper thought best presented his font, the already-popular Cooper Black underwent a renaissance.




"It thrived, as always, in advertising," says Caswell. "Its friendly curves fit the tongue-in-cheek aesthetic of the 1960s and 70s, but it also showed up in magazines, movies, and hundreds of album covers." To typography enthusiasts, Pet Sounds seemingly remains Cooper Black's finest hour: "Just look at the way the D works with the E and the Y, and 'Boys' fits so nicely over the O," as art director Stephen Heller says in the video.

In the 1920s Cooper Black not only showcased cutting-edge printing technology, its aesthetic looked exhilaratingly modern as well. Now, of course, it looks comfortingly retro, evocative of the era of handmade graphic design slipping out of living memory in our digital 21st century. But the 21st century so far has also been a time of "retromania": with all previous media increasingly at our fingertips, we draw inspiration (and even material) for our art and design more directly and instinctively than ever from the trends of the past. No wonder we continue to feel a resonance in Cooper Black, whose letters, as Caswell puts it, bring with them the weight of "a century's worth of changes in technology and pop culture." Nor is Cooper Black's next century, whatever uses it sees the font put to, likely to diminish its appeal.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Facebook, or on Instagram.

DEVO Is Now Selling COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment: Energy Dome Face Shields

According to DEVO's co-principle songwriter and bassist Gerald Casale, the experimental art band turned early MTV pop-punk darlings were “pro-information, anti stupid conformity and knew that the struggle for freedom against tyranny is never-ending.”

Their singular performance garb also set them apart, and none more so than the bright red plastic Energy Dome helmets they donned 40 years ago this month, upon the release of their third album, Freedom of Choice.




The record, which the band conceived of as a funk album, exploded into mainstream consciousness. The visuals may have made an even more lasting impact than the music, which included the chart topping "Whip It."

Even the most anti-New Wave metalhead could identify the source of those domes, which have been likened to upturned flower pots, dog bowls, car urinals, and lamp shades.

What they probably don’t know is the Energy Dome was “designed according to ancient ziggurat mount proportions used in votive worship. Like the mounds, it collects energy and recirculates it. In this case, the dome collects energy that escapes from the crown of the human head and pushes it back into the Medula Oblongata for increased mental energy.”

Thus sayeth Casale, anyway.

DEVO’s 2020 concert plans were, of course, scotched by the coronavirus pandemic, but the band has found an alternative way to mark the 40th anniversary of Freedom of Choice and the birth of its iconic headgear.

In addition to face masks emblazoned with the familiar red tiered shape, DEVOtees with money and confidence to spare can ante up for a DIY Personal Protective Equipment kit that transforms a standard-issue Energy Dome into a face shield.

It’s worth noting that before taking your converted energy dome out for a particle deflecting spin, you’ll have to truffle up a hard hat suspension liner and install it for a proper fit.

Casale heralded the opening of DEVO’s merch store in a Facebook post:

Here we are 40 years later, living in the alternate reality nightmare spawned by Covid 19 and the botched response of our world “leaders” to do the right thing quickly. We are not exaggerating when we say that 2020 could be the last time you might be able to exercise your freedom of choice. If you don’t use it, you can certainly lose it.

Uh, he’s talking about voting, right, rather than storming the capitol building to demand the premature reopening of inessential businesses or making outsized threats in response to grocery store mask policies?

Perhaps the power of the Energy Dome is such that it could reawaken the pro-information, anti-stupidity sensibilities of some dormant DEVO fans among the unmasked rank and file.

As Casale himself posited in an interview with American Songwriter: "You make it taste good so that they don’t realize there’s medicine in it."

Pre-order masks and PPE kits from DEVO’s official merch store.

Download instructions for installing a hard hat suspension replacement inside the Energy Dome prior to attaching the shield.

via Consequence of Sound

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Here latest project is an animation and a series of free downloadable posters, encouraging citizens to wear masks in public and wear them properly. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Experience New York City’s Fabled Mid-Century Nightclubs in an Interactive, COVID-19-Era, Student-Designed Exhibit

It’s been over a month since public health precautions led almost every school in the United States to switch to online instruction.

While there are obviously much greater tragedies unfolding daily, it’s hard not to empathize with students who have watched countless special events—proms, commencements, spring sports, performances, hotly anticipated rites of passage—go poof.

In New York City, students in Parsons School of Design’s Narrative Spaces: Design Tools for Spatial Storytelling course were crestfallen to learn that their upcoming open-to-the-public exhibition of group and solo projects in the West Village—the centerpiece of the class and a huge opportunity to connect with an audience outside of the classroom—was suddenly off the menu.




Multidisciplinary artist Jeff Stark, who co-teaches the class with Pamela Parker, was disappointed on their behalves.

Stark’s own work, from Empire Drive In to Miss Rockaway Armada, is rooted in live experience, and New York City holds a special place in his heart. (He also edits the weekly email list Nonsense NYC, an invaluable resource for independent art and Do-It-Yourself events in the city.)

This year’s class projects stemmed from visits to the City Reliquary, a small museum and civic organization celebrating everyday New York City artifacts. Students were able to get up close and personal with Chris Engel’s collection of photographs, menus, promotional materials, and souvenirs documenting the heyday of New York’s supper club nightlife, from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Student Rylie Cooke, an Australian who aspires to launch a design company, found that her research deepened her connection to artifacts she encountered at the Reliquary, as she came to appreciate the fabled Copacabana’s influence on the popular culture, food, and music of the period:

... with COVID-19 it became important to have this connection to the artifacts as I wasn't able to physically touch or look at them when Parsons moved to online for the semester. I am a very hands-on creative and I love curating things, especially in an exhibit format.

Rather than scrap their goal of public exhibition, the class decided to take things into the virtual realm, hustling to adapt their original concepts to a purely screen-based experience, The New York Supper Club: From Nightlife to Social Distancing.

The plan to wow visitors with a period-appropriate table in the center of their West Village exhibition space became a grid of digital placemats that serve as portals to each project.

Cooke’s contribution, A Seat at the Copacabana, begins with an interview in which baseball great Mickey Mantle recounts getting into a cloakroom brawl as he and fellow New York Yankees celebrated a birthday with a Sammy Davis Jr. set. Recipes for steak and potatoes, Chicken a la King, rarebit, and arroz con pollo provide flavor for a floorshow represented by archival footage of “Let’s Do the Copacabana” starring Carmen Miranda, a Martin and Lewis appearance, and a dance rehearsal from 1945. The tour ends at the Copa’s current incarnation in Times Square, with a vision of pre-socially distanced contemporary merrymakers salsa-ing the night away.

(Navigate this exhibit using toolbar arrows at the bottom of the screen.)

Student Hongxi Chen’s investigations into The China Doll nightclub resulted in an elaborate interactive immersive experience on the topic of cultural appropriation:

The China Doll… was founded in 1946 by Caucasian stage producer Tom Ball, who deemed it the only “all-oriental” night club in New York. While the club sometimes played off “Oriental” stereotypes, and titled one of its shows “Slant-Eyed Scandals,” they featured Asian dancers and Asian singers presenting popular songs in a way New Yorkers had never seen before. The Dim interactive experience unfolds with the story of Thomas, a waiter at the China Doll.

As a junior in Parsons’ Design and Technology program, Chen had plenty of previous experience forging virtual environments, but working with a museum collection was new to him, as was collaborating on a virtual platform.

He sought Stark’s advice on creating vivid dialogue for his fictional waiter.

Jiaqi Liuan, a Design and Technology MFA student and veteran of the Shanghai production of Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s immersive retelling of MacBeth, helped choreograph Chen’s China Doll dancers in an homage to The Flower Drum Song's Fan Tan Fannie number.

Chen stayed up until 7 am for two weeks, devouring open source tutorials in an attempt to wrangle and debug the many elements of his ambitious project—audio, video, character models and animation, software, game engines, and game server platform.

As Chen noted at the exhibition’s recent Zoom opening (an event that was followed by a digital dance party), the massive game can be a bit slow to load. Don't worry, it’s worth the wait, especially as you will have a hand in the story, steering it to one of five different endings.

Chen, an international student, could not safely return to China and has not left his student apartment since mid-March, but gamely states that remaining in the same time zone as his school allowed him to communicate efficiently with his professors and the majority of his classmates. (Cooke is back home in Australia.)

Adds Chen:

Even though we are facing a difficult circumstance under the pandemic and had to pivot our original ideas into a virtual presentation, I’m glad that our class was able to quickly change plans and adapt to the situation. This… actually inspired me a lot and opened up ways to invite and connect people with virtual artwork.

Other highlights of The New York Supper Club: From Nightlife to Social Distancing include Ming Hong Xian’s exploration of the famous West Village country music club, The Village Barn (complete with turtle races) and What Are You? a personality test devised by Mi Ri Kim and Eleanor Melby, to help visitors determine which classic NYC supper club best suits their personality.

(Apparently, I’m headed to Cafe Zanzibar, below, where the drinks are cheap, the aspirin is free, and Cab Calloway is a frequent headliner.)

Stark admits that initially, his students may not have shared his swooning response to the source material, but they share his love of New York City and the desire to “get in the thick of it.” By bringing a Generation Z perspective to this historical ephemera, they stake a claim, making work that could help the City Reliquary connect to a new audience.

Enter The New York Supper Club: From Nightlife to Social Distancing here.

Explore the City Reliquary online here, and join in the civic pride by participating in its weekly Instagram Live events, including Thursday Collectors’ Nights.

(All images used with permission of the artists and The City Reliquary)

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her contribution to art in isolation is a hastily assembled tribute to the classic 60s social line dance, The Madison. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Vintage Book & Record Covers Brought to Life in a Mesmerizing Animated Video

The state of virtual and augmented reality technology has reached the threshold of a time in which VR meetings will be the norm. Apart from other applications, this may soon allow consumers to stroll through virtual aisles rather than clicking boxes on a screen, picking up products and viewing them from every angle. Still, designers recognize that an essence of the human experience is lost without the sense of touch. There may even be a future in which we wear clothes with haptic feedback systems embedded in them, to feel the pages of a virtual book beneath our fingers…

Yet our slow transition from the physical to the virtual world leaves out intangibles. Something is lost from both. Big box stores still devote significant floor space to books and records, for example. But I submit that a glossiness prevails in print design, perhaps a consequence of competing with screens. There’s a wabi-sabi quality to browsing a used bookstore or record shop in person, thumbing through an old collection of vintage paperbacks and LPs, that cannot be simulated or enhanced in any way. On the internet, however, where video is king, it can be made the subject of some hypnotic video art.




As the sensible majority of us are hopefully staying put for the long haul (if we can), we may find ourselves curiously edified by the video art of Henning M. Lederer. We’ve previously featured Lederer’s animations of mid-century minimalist book covers and vintage psychology and philosophy books. He turns the abstract geometric patterns beloved by book and record company designers of the latter half of the 20th century into moving images that hint at how proper cover design can set the imagination whirring (even if it’s a cover design for Basic Accounting).

If Lederer’s mesmerizing videos simulate anything, it’s the experience of wandering into a used bookstore next to a liberal arts college—full of professors’ fascinatingly outdated hand-me-downs—after having ingested a small quantity of LSD. Maybe you’ll have a slightly different association. But the point is that Lederer’s art suggests a scenario rather than attempting to recreate one. His studies of modernist cover designs also recall Marcel Duchamp’s Rotoreliefs, conceptual art pieces intended for popular use as optical illusions.

Duchamp’s spinning disks became features of early Surrealist cinema, iconic symbols of dreams on film. There is a mysterious opacity to his physical objects onscreen, just as Lederer’s book and record covers seem to have a weight of their own, a use of digital technology to highlight the strange uniqueness of physical objects, rather than their endless reproducibility.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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