The Daily Heller: On Process and Outcome

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This week Princeton Architectural Press and Moleskine continue their "Inspiration and Process in Design" series with two richly illustrated and annotated volumes. Like last year's two previous editions, respectively on Paul Rand and Seymour Chwast, I've either written the introductions and/or conducted the interviews featured within. Below is a preview of the latest volumes, on Louise Fili and Milton Glaser, filled with roughs, comps, failed and successful examples of a wealth of material.

From my introduction to Louise Fili:

Whenever I see Louise Fili’s work—a logo, poster, book, package design or typeface—my delight is palpable; my excitement for design is renewed. I have been writing, observing, exhibiting and teaching graphic design and design history for so many decades (and before that, attempting to be a graphic designer) that my interest in the old and new occasionally flags. Yet Louise’s elegant precision and unfailing typographic excellence invariably brings me back to a happy place. Honestly, I am similarly stimulated by the work of other designers, letterers and illustrators (many of whom I have written about enthusiastically for magazines and books) but not, to put it mildly, in the same way that Louise Fili’s output has outdone itself so continuously and overwhelmingly.

Although this may sound like extreme acclaim, and although she is indeed my wife of over 35 years, the fanfare is not because of this relationship; this relationship began because of her work. I have certainly known many artists and designers whose design has gone in and out of favor for any number of predictable reasons, including stagnancy, redundancy or plain-old over-familiarity with their styles and ideas. I cannot say that can be said about Louise’s work. No, I am not entirely biased.

From my introduction to Milton Glaser:

Milton Glaser was of large stature and formidable influence. By sharing his processes of illustration, graphic, signage, book, magazine, package, product and logo design, as well as his decades teaching, writing and lecturing, I reckon he inspired probably tens of thousands of designers around the globe spanning different generations, first as co-founder with Seymour Chwast of Push Pin Studios, then on his own as Milton Glaser Inc. Receiving the National Medal of Arts from Barack Obama in 2010 was but one of the many honors bestowed upon him, but it is the quintessential piece of solid evidence that Glaser impressed an extremely broad demographic through his inspiring lifelong creative career.

Glaser was truly charismatic. Whenever he presented his work and spoke in his distinctive professorial intonation about the motivations for doing this work, his rapt audiences listened and absorbed. This was as quantifiable as it was resonant. For with the advent of social media and its capacity for instant response, Glaser was routinely quoted and highly praised by students, professionals and the public at large. I asked him how it felt to have such clout—was it a joy, burden or did he even sense the audience hanging on his every word and picture? “I’ve always seen myself as someone who worked in the realm of ideas and who was susceptible to influence,” he responded. “My own practice is one where I consciously try to absorb and be influenced by many of my experiences, so the idea of influence and being influential is important to me.”