Freehand Life

Freehand Life

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I Heart “Professionalism is Not Enough”

July 18, 2011

Milton Glaser is a world-reknown American graphic artist.  One of his most famous works continues to be the “I Heart NY” logo, which was actually designed pro bono for the City of New York in the 1970’s.  The Milton Glaser studio opened in 1975 and continues to produce influential identity, advertising, book & album covers, illustration, and posters.

Glaser’s graphic style is simple, colorful, and bold.  His work ethic is well explained in one of my favorite quotes from him.  Entitled “10 Things I’ve Learned,”  Glaser discusses how professionalism is not enough in Lesson #4:

“When you are doing something in a recurring way to diminish risk or doing it in the same way as you have done it before, it is clear why professionalism is not enough. After all, what is required in our field, more than anything else, is the continuous transgression.  Professionalism does not allow for that because transgression has to encompass the possibility of failure and if you are professional your instinct is not to fail, it is to repeat success.”

All corporations  aim to minimize risk and optimize success with those beloved “best practices” and “unique methodologies.”  When all serious businesses tout professionalism, their competition and employees are repeating the same dog-eared playbook.  Yawn.  Enter Glaser’s idea of “continuous transgression.”   Transgressions run the gamut, from itty bitty naughty to down right barrier shattering.  Transgressions and all its risk taking is alluring because of its potential success.  What if it works?

Read Glaser’s complete “10 Things I’ve Learned” from his studio’s site.

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