Milton Glaser in 2008

Some quotes by Milton Glaser from Wendy Keys’ 2008 documentary Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight:

“I’m always embarrassed when people come because it doesn’t look like a design office with beautiful furniture and fancy pictures.

One thing you’ll notice is that I’m sitting along with everybody else in this undifferentiated space, and I realized that, in part, that was because of the way I grew up in a three-room apartment in the Bronx. My father would be sitting at one corner, reading the newspaper, and my mother would be sitting in the opposite corner. She would be sewing socks and shirts, and my sister would be sitting on the couch, doing her homework. Most of the room was occupied by this enormous dining table that we only used once a year, at Passover. And of course we were all listening to the radio at the same time. So ever since then I’ve always worked in a room surrounded by everybody else.”

“I learned a lot about teaching from studying with Giorgio Morandi years ago. What the students get from a good teacher is not instruction. What they get is a demonstration of someone’s view of life. That’s what you teach. You teach a way of perceiving the world.

People always ask me why I teach. I love to teach. I don’t think I have an obligation to teach. I teach because I feel better when I teach than when I don’t teach.

Of course, the fact that people ask that question in itself just indicates the kind of low-voltage contempt that teaching is actually held in in America. The idea of being a teacher is that you’ve gotta pass it on. You learn something, you develop some insights, your experience can be transmitted. That is the nature of civilization.”

“It really shifted me from the idea of modernism as being the only available resource to draw on for a young designer. I suddenly realized history was not the enemy, that you could use anything as raw material to make something. That was a great, great transformation for me, and it’s persisted to this day.”

“What I like, is basically…working on all levels of the culture, from the high to the low, because the idea behind all of that whatever the level is, excellence can always exist on that level. So, a good ham and cheese sandwich is really every bit as good as a crème brûlée. In fact, it’s better than a crème brûlée. But each form requires its own level of intelligence and passion.”

“The accomplishments of the 60s made us so full of naive enthusiasm… And here we are, at a moment in time where all of that view has been swept away. A triumph, I would say, of a dark vision, of meanness, of stupidity, of arrogance, that seems to be so pervasive all over the world, not only in Washington. You realize things change, and not necessarily for the better. Then it’s simply a condition that you have to play your part, and your part is to be on the side of the light. I mean, that’s my view of it.”

— (via)