Oct 24, 2006

Some stats and thoughts on the Milton Glaser and Paula Scher interviews:

7,949 total words transcribed -- 4,279 for the Paula Scher interview, 3,670 for Milton Glaser. Of those, 1,535 belong to me. If my math is right that means I was speaking approximately 19% of the time. I think that means I did something right.

There are entirely too many writers/journalists out there who approach interviews with the wrong mindset. They want to make themselves into a disproportionately large part of the story. If you have the talent of a Hunter Thompson or a Michael Herr you can do that. But chances are you do not have the talent of a Hunter Thompson or a Michael Herr. At least not yet. Instead, your job is to get the story, and the story, in nearly every case, is whatever your subject wants to say.

That means, basically, shut up. Let your subject speak. This takes a sacrifice of ego, but if your motives are correct then that shouldn't be a problem. The writer is rarely the story. Period.

Now, having said that, here's another taste (some of the language refers to context I'm not giving you here, but you can figure it out):
NS: Design, as such, seems to be a relatively new idea. Where’s the intersection for you between that art, and the idea now of design, as you said, working with people, solving problems. Is it different now? Is your conception of design as a field, as a discipline, is it different than it was then? Or do you still think of it just as art with a different goal?
Paula Scher: That’s an interesting question, actually, because it changed. Design really can be anything. What design is…it’s the art of planning, and it is the art of making things possible. Really, everything is designed. The table is designed, the chair you’re sitting on is designed, the shirt you’re wearing is designed, you look out the window at a park that was designed, the park’s got signage and an entryway that was designed, there’s a thing called Shake Shack in the park that was designed…
NS: Great design.
PS: Thank you.
NS: Was that you?
PS: Well I did do all of the typography.
NS: Ahhh…it’s gorgeous.
PS: The goal of design as it relates to visual things, to tangible things, is to raise the expectation of what something can be. It’s not just to…OK, you can say “I’ve got a problem. I’ve gotta build a hot dog stand in the park.” You can build an ordinary hot dog stand or you can build a spectacular one, and you can do it sometimes without that much difference in money – if somebody thinks about it. So what a designer does is he makes things possible that you didn’t imagine could exist before, and it makes the world a better place. You know, it’s a great thing to be doing. A fine artist does that, too, but they make the expression for themselves, not for others’ use. Design always has a purpose, art has no purpose. That’s really the difference between them. Do I think one is better than the other? Absolutely not. I think they both fulfill functions. But having no purpose is the function of art, so somebody else can look at it and ask a question. Design is different – you’re supposed to understand what’s going on. You can be delighted by it, intrigued by it, but you’re supposed to know it’s a hot dog stand.
I should note here that my approach to transcription -- and this goes back to my first published work -- is to transcribe the conversation as closely as is reasonably possible to what was actually said. It's admittedly imperfect, but nonetheless it's far better than if I were to try to impose written conventions at the expense of spoken rhythm.

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