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  • Writer's pictureJohn Clarkson

What's the Secret?

Milton Glaser, one of the world's most honored graphic designers, recently passed away. His work includes the iconic Bob Dylan poster, the internationally recognized "I Love NY" campaign, the New York Magazine logo, the AIDS poster for the World Health Organization, the Brooklyn Brewery logo. It's a long list.

How was Milton Glaser able to come up with hundreds and hundreds of brilliant ideas, again and again over a career that spanned decades?

Glaser provided the answer in a poster he designed for his School of Visual Arts (SVA) Subway Series campaign titled "The Secret of Art".

Here’s the poster:

Admittedly, the idea about persevering isn't a secret. We've heard variations of it for a long time. T.H. Palmer wrote the poem Try, Try Again in 1840. Glaser's rendition of it in 2008 is an ingenious, powerful expression of the idea, And yet, I'm not sure we really believe it. A lot of us still ask – What if I just don't have it in me?

Here’s the answer to that question. Also, from Milton Glaser, given in an interview shortly before his death.

“There’s an odd combination of intuition and intelligence that has to be mustered to do this work. The part that is logical is only half the job. The other half is truly intuitive and comes out of some part of the brain that you can’t control. It’s the reconciliation of those two aspects that make things happen. But since the brain is an instrument that holds everything in the universe, it’s there somewhere.” – Milton Glaser

Glaser is talking about the work of art, but I think this applies to everything we work at. Dealing with your kids, earning a living, getting from A to Z. The solution is in "there somewhere". Why? Because "the brain is an instrument that holds everything in the universe". That's the real secret. Believe it.

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