5 Designing Lessons You Should Learn from Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser is one of the most famous graphic designers, whose work is still influential today. One of the most memorable trends that he gave us is the I (heart) New York design, but also many other slogans and logos that we see and remember are here thanks to him. Below, we will discuss some of his famous quotes or lessons that are beneficial for anyone who works in the graphic design department. Here are five designing lessons you should learn from Milton Glaser.


“Solving any problem is more important than being right.”

How does this translate into a lesson? Well, as a designer, you might have many arguments with your clients, since they had imagined something else than what you created, and you might argue how your approach is better. This kind of approach won’t get you anywhere. Try to see where the problem lies exactly, why your customer disapproves your design, and see if you can both meet halfway.

Designers are problem solvers; they need to find different ways of expression in order to convey certain information. It goes for any type of graphic designer, web, interface etc. So, you need to be someone who is able to take constructive criticism, and who is willing to take a step back and reexamine the situation.

“Certainty is a closing of the mind. To create something new you must have doubt.”


Perfection is unachievable. It simply blocks any way to further improve and, as an artist, you must abandon any notion of perfection. If you claim your work is perfect, then you are not looking at it from all perspectives and you are completely subjective, and as a designer who works for hire, you’ll need to create things that will be received better by the general public. Always remember: progress, not perfection.

For any creative design, you must have doubt, and to question yourself.  It is this doubt that makes you more detail oriented, and with special attention to details, you can add more depth and more layers to your design. You are more aware of the potential problems and you are constantly working on the solutions.

“Fail more often in order to find out what you’re capable of learning.”

This is one of the oldest lessons in any business. Fail faster, and fail better. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, and to salvage something valuable. On your road to progress, retrospect is one of the best tools you can have. Besides, as a designer, you need to be innovative, which means venturing into the territories where you have never been before and fear of failure will prevent you from doing so. Moreover, people want designers with diverse experiences, so feel free to expand that comfort zone.

“To design is to communicate clearly by whatever means you can control or master.”

Here is a bit more specific lesson regarding design. You need to use techniques that allow you to express yourself in the best ways possible. Also, you do not have to be utterly bound by some principles of design. After all, pushing boundaries is also your job. During one lecture Milton Stated explained how he had a problem regarding a particular design and found a solution that was a bit unconventional. One of the most important mottoes of graphic design is: “If you have to explain it, it ain’t working.” Milton just said: “Well, let’s suppose that’s not true.”

“There are three responses to a piece of design—yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.”

Finally, remember that your goal is also to impress people. You want your work to be shared and your name to be heard, if you are to make it as an artist. The competition is really tight out there, and there are many skilled graphic designers, so you need to make sure your work really stands out from the crowd. After all it is the “WOW” factors that are a major selling point this day; it makes the observers think that your product is something they really want. So, always ask for a second opinion, and if your result has not incited “WOW” out of your observer, then try harder.

Hopefully, you will be able to put these lessons to good use. Remember to keep going and to be active, because not working or not trying is worse than failure. We live in an age when persistence can really pay off, and many artists go for years without any kind of momentous notice and feedback before they are given the credit they deserve. If you like designing and if you like impressing other people then this will not be an arduous task it will be something you really love to do.



1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Denis

    07/02/2017 at 11:26 PM

    Very good points, as an artist I really believe in this things. Also, I think is important always be open to learning more. If you are saying to yourself that “I know a lot/ I know everything” about a subject, well, that’s the moment for you to stop and learn all over again, and then try new things.

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