Milton Glaser

Milton Glaser is the co-founder of New York magazine and creator of the famous I ♥ NY icon. Surrounded by scale models and an eclectic array of colorful objects, the designer reflects on New York’s image in the eyes of the world.

Doré Ashton: Why did you settle in this city when you could have gone to any great metropolis in the world?

Milton Glaser: A lot of people like to be outside the culture, being able to sort of skim on the surface of it, and I found that that wasn’t me. The access to energy, to information, is just incredible here.

Ashton: Is there a characteristic New York sensibility?

Glaser: If you are a big player in the world of art, this is the place you have to play in. I suppose that produces a kind of attitude, a degree of arrogance, or if you want to put it positively, self-confidence.

Ashton: Your poster, “Art is Whatever,” is a very New York sentiment. Do you really think so?  

Glaser: There doesn’t seem to be a stable definition, nor could there be. At one point the definition of ceramics was that it had to hold water, and then suddenly someone said, “wait a minute, that’s not necessarily true,” and all hell broke loose.

Ashton: The American Craft Museum has recently changed its name to the Museum of Arts and Design. How important is a name? Is it craft, is it art, is it design, or is it whatever?

Glaser: If you are an artist you get a half-million-dollar credit for being in the art world. If you are a craftsman you get a dollar and quarter, because traditionally craft has the overtone of something made with Popsicle sticks. Which business would you rather be in?