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5 design lessons you should learn from Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser is one of the most famous graphic designers in the world and his work continues to be very influential till this day. He is known for his emblematic work of I <3 New York but also for his memorable logos and slogans created with his unique wit and creativity.

Behind all this experience there is a great professional that has shared famous quotes, very inspiring for anyone who studies or works in graphic design or the creative field. Here are 5 designs lessons you should learn from Milton Glaser. Let’s take a look at each of them.

“Solving any problem is more important than being right”

In design many times we find big problems we must face, especially when having arguments with clients or bosses. You could say you have the best approach to solve the problem but, as Glaser tells us, this would take you nowhere. The most important thing is to find the root of the problem, why they don’t approve your design and try to adjust to what they’re asking.

As designers we must solve problems. It’s necessary to find different ways to transmit information and this applies to any discipline. It’s necessary being able to accept constructive criticism and thoroughly examine what the client needs.

“Certainty is closing your mind. To create something new you should have doubts”

This is a point I’ve learned with time and falls: perfection in unreachable. It blocks you and doesn’t let you improve, it keeps you behind and makes your creativity to stagnate. If you affirm that your work is perfect you’re not looking at it from all perspectives and you’re completely biased. You should keep in mind that your design is going to be viewed by a general audience and it’s best to remember this: focus on your progress, not perfection.

Details are important, but getting obsessed with tem will block you and it will not allow you to be objective on what the public needs or what you should transmit. We have to be attentive to detail but the really important thing is to find the most accurate solution possible.

“Get to fail more often to discover what you’re capable or learning”

Being a person with that thirst for learning is essential in this changing world and failing is one of those lessons. Fail quicker and better. Each mistake is an opportunity to learn and to save something valuable. In the way to progress, retrospective is one of the best tools we have. Besides, as a designer you need to be innovative and this means to venture to territories you’ve never been before. If you fear fail you won’t be able to do this. Also, people want designers with multiple experiences, so feel free to widen your comfort zone.

“Designing is clearly communicating through any means you can control or dominate”

This lesson is very much focused strictly on design. It’s necessary to venture and use different techniques to communicate the best way possible. Many times you have to go beyond design principles and find that balance to produce the ideal message. After all, pushing limits is also part of your work.

Another phrase Milton said in a conference was: “if you have to explain it, it doesn’t work”. This refers to a problem he had to solve when getting out of conventional design. This is something you should take into account.

“There are three answers to a piece of design: yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the goal”

Finally, one of the best-known phrases of this design genius. One of the objectives in design is to amaze. If what you are looking for is that your work is shared and heard, you must find that WOW factor. We know competition is hard but there lies the enthusiasm and capacity to impact and stand out from the crowd. This is key to increase your sales while making people think that your product is something they really want. If you haven’t accomplished this effect, it’s time to work and try harder.

We hope you liked these 5 lessons and that you can follow them, as they are relevant in this wonderful and challenging field of design. We live in an era of constant changes. More requirements, more technology and staying updated on how the world moves could be the key to accomplish a good visual message.


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