DRAWINGS :: Swipes From the Great Glaser!
Have you ever heard of Milton Glaser? Well, along with a ton of other stuff (the I-Heart-NY logo, the famous psychedelic Dylan poster, etc.) he co-founded The Push Pin Studios way back in the 50's, with Seymour Chwast. The studio, which would become arguably one of the two or three most influential American design firms of the 20th century--they had a Louvre special exhibit in the 70's--published on a semi-regular basis The Push Pin Graphic, which was on the surface, little more than a sophisticated calling card to send to art directors and other potential clients. The Graphic would feature hand illustration, dynamic typesetting and layout, and--increasingly over its lifespan--articles featuring bizarre or ironic esoterica. Of course, it was first and foremost a periodical design publication/experiment/brochure, but the studio's infectious creativity made these little booklets enormously entertaining to anyone, regardless of their interest in design, illustration, or the other graphic arts.
One of the conceits of the Graphic was that the advertisements were done in-house, featuring the different companies that the studio employed to produce the publication; for instance, the images above come from a page of advertisements featuring the typesetter, printing company, retoucher, etc. Milton Glaser, from all I've read so far, seemed to be the more classically-bent member of the studio, with a background in painting and Italian art. Beyond the more obviously illustrator-y pieces of his in the publication (portraits of George Bernard Shaw, Mussolini marching on Rome) he would occasionally contribute fanciful cross-hatched illustrations like these. When I first saw these things, I was immediately blown away, not only by the style, and the elegant linework, but by how simply great they look. The problem with style is that it must always be in service to the material, except in cases where the style itself is the material. Many cartoonists will develop a very singular style, and even a very beautiful one, but it leaves the subject matter so overworked that the very idea of the cartoon is suborned to its manner of execution.
These drawings, on the other hand, seem at once stylish, abstract, and immediate--the idea is immediately clear, but there's enough style there to keep someone looking. In my case, looking, and looking, and looking... so much so, that I found myself compelled to spend hours replicating them in my sketchbook, in quasi-fruitful attempt to learn the style. The problem, or at least one of them, is that Milton Glaser is so famous for other innovations, that searching for other examples of this kind of work is hard; mainly because most people, articles, and books focus more squarely on his admittedly far-larger design portfolio. I fired off an e-mail to his studio website, but of course have heard nothing. Who wants to hear, "I'm really interested in the work you were doing fifty years ago, and am irritated that the much-lauded work you've done since is getting in my way." If you, gentle reader, ever come across more examples of this kind of pen-and-ink work, whether by Glaser or another, please e-mail me: dusty-at-dharbin-dot-com.
Oh, by the way, just to be clear: the above drawings are reproductions I did of several of Glaser's drawings from the ad's I was talking about. I had nothing to do with their conception, nor do I claim any copyright or anything. But don't they look good? It's terrible to be so proud of something that wasn't my idea at all.