When it comes to sustainability, one thing that gets overlooked is seeing it in terms of individual happiness and health in relationship to career. I believe that the concept of sustainability should be broadened to incorporate not only the way our actions impact the planet but how individuals and their choice of career can benefit our health and humanity.

A great example of someone who has pursued such a sustainable career is Milton Glaser. If you are not familiar with the man, you have probably seen his work at a museum or in nearly any book on modern graphic design. Glaser’s most visible and recognizable piece is the I Love New York logo which he designed in 1977; notably, to this day, he has not received one dollar for it. Glaser is currently in his eighty-fourth year and still runs Milton Glaser Inc.

Mad Men Final Season

With the new and final season of Mad Men just around the corner, I was  surprised and excited to see that Glaser had been commissioned to create the official poster for the show’s final season. What makes it so special is that he designed the poster for a television show that takes place in a time in which he so heavily influenced graphic design — and the work is in the style made famous by his iconic Bob Dylan poster.

“I am still astonished. Things still amaze me.”
—Milton Glaser

Glaser has always made it clear that he stayed at arms length of the advertising world, remaining more closely tied to the design world for over six decades. His passion for design and art has helped sustain his career well into his eighties — in a world where people are expected to simply retire in their sixties. This gets one thinking about the complexity of the paths and the decisions we make to construct successful careers. His longevity and passion for his work shows that if we are truly and utterly passionate about our work, it will likely sustain both our happiness and our health well into our later years.

Sustainability, broadened, should be a term used to describe the types of careers that we pursue and the positive impacts that they have on our culture, economy and individual well-being. A sustainable career is one that feeds the mind, engages the world, and delivers lasting meaning to the way we think about and understand our world.

I end these thoughts with a fantastic short film by the late Hillman Curtis, who walked in Milton Glaser’s large footsteps: