Milton Glaser

Chip Kidd interviews the designer Milton Glaser. Highly recommend.
On parental influence:

CK: How did your parents feel about your wanting to become an artist? I assume that’s what you always wanted.

MG: Yes. I tell the story: At the age of five I made that decision. In my parents I had the perfect combination—a resistant father and an encouraging mother. My mother convinced me I could do anything. And my father said, “Prove it.” He didn’t think I could make a living. Resistance produces muscularity. And it was the perfect combination because I could use my mother’s belief to overcome my father’s resistance. My father was a kind of a metaphor for the world, because if you can’t overcome a father’s resistance you’re never going to be able to overcome the world’s resistance. It’s much better than having completely supportive parents or completely resistant parents.

On retirement:

CK: Any plans to retire?

MG: Oh god, no. There is nothing I fear more than the idea of having to retire. I fear retirement more than death.

CK: [Laughs]

MG: I think the worst scam that was ever performed on the innocent American people is this idea that retirement is desirable. It’s only desirable for people who really hate what they do.

CK: Yes.

MG: But for us, who basically are in the activity that is so interesting and compelling and has the ability to sort of enter into the world, by God retirement is the absolute last thing I would dream of.

On designing the I Heart NY logo, and social change:

MG: Well, it was the mid-seventies, a terrible moment in the city. Morale was at the bottom of the pit. I always say you can tell by the amount of dog shit in the street.

CK: Dog shit.

MG: Yes. There was so much dog shit because people didn’t feel that they deserved anything else, right? I mean you were just walking through all this dog shit day after day, in this filthy city, garbage, and so on. And then the most extraordinary thing happened: There was a shift in sensibility. One day people said, “I’m tired of stepping in dog shit. Get this fucking stuff out of my way.” And the city began to react. They said, “If you allow your dog to crap on the street, you have to pay a fine of $100,” and within a very short time it became socially untenable to allow your dog to shit on the street. Now, I don’t know what produces those behavioral shifts, right? From one day where it’s OK, and then suddenly the city simultaneously got fed up and said, “It’s our city, we’re going to take it back, we’re not going to allow this stuff to happen.” And part of that moment was this campaign. More than anything else it was a device to encourage tourism.