You’d think a man with so many famous projects under his belt might be a little bit pompous, but he’s actually quite the opposite. The documentary paints a portrait of a man who is compassionate, endearing, and humble. He seems confident, but never cocky, and happy to help others by sharing his timeless advice. It’s clear that this is a man who didn’t set out to hit it big, but ended up with an extremely successful career because of a sheer talent for communicating with people visually.
I also found it interesting how Glaser reflected on his first company, Push Pin Graphics. He sounded nostalgic and proud, but also somewhat annoyed when describing it. He called the company, “the epitome of fun in design” and said that it, “opened the door to eclecticism in a way that no other firm had done,” but then added that “the company’s success defined us too much…Push Pin became a style, and I don’t trust styles. I had to redefine myself.” This is the exact opposite of what I would expect to hear from such a profound graphic designer, a man who practically creates ‘styles’ for a living…and it’s even more ironic when you consider that he is credited with creating and popularizing the graphic style “Psychedelia” in the 1960s, the most distinct style of the era .
Perhaps his aversion to style is really more of an aversion to being "typecast," so to speak, for a specific type of style. Although, with his accomplishments, I don't think he's in any danger of being seen as repetitive any time soon.
While his accomplishments are jaw dropping and numerous, the real takeaway of the film for me comes from the random nuggets of wisdom that are scattered throughout his narration. Here are some of my favorites:
- “Art has no real meaning other than what each generation assigns to it—it’s only purpose is to create commonalities between different groups of people, because without mutual interests, we’d kill each other.”
- “A smart strategy is to create work that appeals to the problem-solving part of the brain by creating simple visual puzzles.”
- “Everything is related to its opposite—light requires darkness; truth needs lies.”
- “It’s good to explore the spiritual side of life, but hold your beliefs lightly.”
- “Design is not a service; it’s a cultural value.”
And this final piece of advice is what really stuck with me: “pursue creative hobbies that bring you satisfaction.” He says the trick is to find ways to incorporate the things you love to do into the things you have to do (he did this by using his love of food as the inspiration for different advertising concepts).
Although the idea of “doing what you love” may seem like a trite concept, it really stood out to me in this context. It’s easy to get so caught up in our responsibilities that we forget to enjoy life, but the smart way to avoid burning out is by making sure that your responsibilities are things you enjoy doing. Luckily for me, advertising is a fun and rewarding creative outlet for me, the same way that design is a creative outlet for Mr. Glaser.