Career advice from the lengendary Milton Glaser

I’ve been meaning to post this…

Milton Glaser has some advice and he wants you to listen!

As a design God – a force behind the original Push Pin Studio, and the creator of the iconic I Love NY design and Bob Dylan poster – Glaser has a few things he’s picked up along the way. Okay, more than a few and he’s nice enough to share so there’s so hope for the rest of us in the design world.

Ten years ago he gave a lecture for AIGA in London (courtesy of, including samples of his work), and the advice still rings true today. In the lecture he touched upon the top 10 things he’s learned over his career – lessons that are important for more than just design. His advice is so legit that every since I read this piece I find myself quoting him. Below I wrote his exact words first in caps and then a mix of my impressions with his thoughts.

1. YOU CAN ONLY WORK FOR PEOPLE THAT YOU LIKE. This is hard to achieve but obviously great if it happens.
2. IF YOU HAVE A CHOICE NEVER HAVE A JOB. You know you’ve found your calling when the work you do is your passion. Then, and only then, does it not feel like work. Obviously very few people achieve this, but it’s not impossible.
3. SOME PEOPLE ARE TOXIC AVOID THEM. People that are good for you will empower you, energized you, and make you a better person.
4. PROFESSIONALISM IS NOT ENOUGH or THE GOOD IS THE ENEMY OF THE GREAT. If you’re overly professional, you avoid risk which means you might miss out on key career-enhancing opportunities. Push yourself to take chances.
5. LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE. Ah, this speaks true to me and I think the new saying Glaser has coined is brilliant: “Just enough is more.”
6. STYLE IS NOT TO BE TRUSTED. What he is saying here is style is not the most important and that people get tired of seeing the same thing. It is, however, key to have a cohesive approach to your work otherwise it risks being all over the map! Glaser references Cassandre, a talented French painter, as a good example.
7. HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN. Your brain constantly grows, and as an artist it’s important to sketch/take notes to get your brain to think differently and solve new visual puzzles. It also helps you work on your attention to detail.
8. DOUBT IS BETTER THAN CERTAINTY. Some skepticism is good, cynicism is not.
9. ON AGING. Rule number one on aging is it DOESN’T matter. So true, and I feel like that’s something that my dad would say.
10. TELL THE TRUTH. Be honest about your design product. Simply be yourself.

Check out his latest interview with Dwell on 5/26:


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