Milton Glaser, Who Designed ‘I ❤ NY’ Logo, Dies at 91

A three-dimensional representation of Mr. Glaser's iconic “I ❤ NY” logo at the new LaGuardia Airport

By Paul Riegler on 27 June 2020
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Milton Glaser, an American graphic artist known for work as varied as the “I ❤ NY” logo, a 1967 poster of Bob Dylan with psychedelic hair, and the creation of New York Magazine, died Friday in New York City.

Mr. Glaser was 91 and Friday was his birthday.

With wit and whimsy, Mr. Glaser modified the vocabulary if not the entire language of American design in his work in advertising, product design, and typography. One of his most recognizable works remains his “I ❤ NY” logo, designed for a 1977 campaign to promote tourism in the state. He said he came up with the design sitting in the back of a taxi on his way to a meeting for the project.  The logo is found in sculpture form in the state’s airports including the new LaGuardia.

In an interview for the book “The Push Pin Graphic: A Quarter Century of Innovative Design and Illustration,” he cited “Art Nouveau, Chinese wash drawing, German woodcuts, American primitive paintings, the Viennese secession, and cartoons of the ’30s” as his influences.

One of Mr. Glaser’s first posters was for the record album Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits.  Commissioned by CBS Records, the poster depicts Dylan’s head, using a black-and-white self-portrait silhouette by Marcel Duchamp as inspiration, adding psychedelic, swirly hair and the artist’s name, “Dylan,” written in Baby Teeth, a Glaser typeface. Over six million posters were printed.  A folded copy was slipped into the jacket of every record sold

In 1968, Mr. Glaser and Clay Felker teamed up to start New York magazine as a competitor to the New Yorker, using New Journalism and a more brash, less polite voice to inform readers about what was going on in New York, from dining out to politics.  Mr. Glaser left the magazine in 1977.  He drew the logo that, with minor updates, continues to be present on the magazine’s covers.

It was at the magazine that Mr. Glaser also became a writer, working with his friend Jerome Snyder, the design director of Sports Illustrated, to create “The Underground Gourmet,” a restaurant review column that covered inexpensive ethnic restaurants in the manner of a review in a major newspaper.  At the time, no one covered cheap restaurants because they didn’t advertise but it was a revolution in the world of food journalism.

Milton Glaser was born in the Bronx on June 26, 1929, the son of Jewish immigrants Eugene and Eleanor (Bergman) Glaser from Hungary. His father owned a dry-cleaning shop and his mother was a homemaker. He studied at the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan and later at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. After several jobs, he won a Fulbright scholarship to the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna.

Mr. Glaser co-founded Push Pin Studios with classmates from Cooper Union in 1954, a design company quickly recognized for its use of color, form, and typography. His was then a style that became known as “Yellow Submarine” art that borrows the name from the visually iconic 1968 Beetles animated film, which came later on. He kept busy and founded his own eponymously named firm in 1974. In the late 1980s, he designed the AIDS logo for the World Health Organization. He also named and created the logo for the Brooklyn Brewery, taking a stake in the company in lieu of a fee.

In 1957, he married Shirley Girton, a designer who replaced him at his first job. The couple, which collaborated on several children’s books, lived in Manhattan and in Woodstock.  His wife is his only immediate survivor. The couple had no children.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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