Milton Glaser as Sound


I have chosen to write a creative synesthesia on Milton Glaser’s “Bob Dylan” graphic design. When relating this illustration to sound it would be quite easy to say that it evokes Bob Dylan’s early career. Though I do feel that this illustration of Bob Dylan is reminiscent of the way the music that he created during the 1960s sounds, I would like to go a little broader and talk about why.

When translating this illustration into sound it reminds me of the way that a small quiet room sounds like. The silhouette of Bob Dylan and the minimalist way his portrait was drawn is what evokes this. It reminds me of the sound of a clean, bright room with minimal amounts of furniture. As you are experiencing the sound of this room, maybe someone has turned on a stereo. Music is bursting from one corner of the room, flowing out of the speaker and entering your ears, eventually filling up the tiny space with colourful sounds. The sound is both experimental and pleasant. There are many layers and components to it, almost reminiscent of an orchestra but flow-ier and more wonky, less perfect. You can hear the dynamics and the play between the once silent room, now filling up with tremendous sound.

This portrait is part of the psychedelic movement in art. During this movement artists wanted to create posters that made the viewer feel as if they were on psychedelic drugs. I wanted to relate music to this particular poster because, for one reason, music and psychedelic art go hand in hand, and two, because Bob Dylan is an extremely influential folk artist, who I would not champion as an extremely forefront figure in the psychedelic drug scene. This particular graphic design is a little different from typical psychedelic posters, as it utilises the space differently. Psychedelic posters tend to fill the entire page with colour and illustrative text and images that feel as if they are optical illusions. Milton Glaser’s image touches on the psychedelic style in a more minimalist way, due to the silhouetted portrait and the only touch of fluid colour flowing outwards as Bob Dylan’s hair. I think this image is reminiscent of the way that Bob Dylan could fill a quiet room with music, especially music from his protest song career in the 1960s. He could get an entire crowd of people to listen to him with songs that were musically simple, but with a strong and empowering message. This image also reminds me of the song “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles. The song starts off as if the Beatles are signing in a small room, with good acoustics and an echo, like a bathroom. As the song progresses it builds up to an explosion of sound, dynamic and constantly changing. The song is as layered as the colours in the image and flows into an encompassing sound in a way that is reminiscent of the illustration.

The portrait of Bob Dylan created by Milton Glaser evokes the music of psychedelic artists of the 1960s. This illustration reminds the viewer of Bob Dylan’s folk career, especially of his career in the early 1960s when he became popular for his protest songs. Personally, this image reminds me of the song “A Day in the Life” by the Beatles because of its dynamics, contrast and booming layered sound.


Works Cited

The Beatles. “A Day in the Life.” Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, EMI                  Studio and Reagent Sound Studio,                                                 1967.

Bob Dylan. “Mr. Tambourine Man.” Bringing It All Back Home, Columbia Recording Studios, 1965.

Bob Dylan. “Mr. Tambourine Man (Live at the Newport Folk Festival. 1964).” 1964, Fort Adams State Park. BobDylan TV.

Glaser, Milton. “Bob Dylan.” Offset lithograph. 1966, Museum of Modern Art.