Graphic artist Milton Glaser, whose innovative and iconic designs graced advertising materials for institutions and companies, the covers of books and record albums, posters, grocery store aisles, TV commercials and T-shirts for a half-century, died on Friday, June 26. He was 91.
Graphic designer and New York magazine co-founder Milton Glaser (1929-2020), who created the iconic “I Love NY” logo.
Glaser achieved a certain immortality with his 1977 design for a New York State tourism campaign. Its simple logo, first scribbled in red crayon during a taxi ride: “I 💗NY.”
The son of Hungarian immigrants, Glaser studied at Cooper Union in New York, and worked at Vogue magazine, before attending the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy. He helped set up a design shop, Push Pin Studios, that brought modern graphics and illustrations to advertising and magazines.
In 2001 he described to “Sunday Morning” his proclivity to upend expectations, whether it was a book jacket or a company logo: “You always have to start with what the audience already knows. You start with the traditional, and then you violate it.”
He earned fame with his psychedelic 1967 poster of Bob Dylan:
A 1967 Bob Dylan poster for Columbia Records.
Soon after he co-founded the trendsetting New York magazine, serving as its design director for a decade. “I never designed a magazine before I started doing it,” he told “Sunday Morning” in 2019. “The plan was, you know, like a movie: ‘Let’s do a magazine!'” (He also penned a popular food column, “The Underground Gourmet.”)
In the 1980s he co-founded the firm WBMG, which redesigned newspapers and magazines worldwide.
The subject of several museum exhibitions, Glaser’s work has been included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Israel Museum in Jerusalem; and the Smithsonian Institute, among others.
Glaser’s logo, created for the New York State Department of Economic Development, has been featured in TV commercials, posters, T-shirts, caps, bumper stickers, mugs, decals, and countless other objects.
In addition to co-authoring and designing children’s books with his wife, Shirley, Glaser wrote several books on design, including “The Milton Glaser Poster Book,” “Art Is Work,” “Drawing Is Thinking,” and “Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines.” He was the subject of a documentary in 2008, titled “Milton Glaser: To Inform and Delight,” and the following year he was the first graphic designer ever to receive the National Medal of Arts.
“Design is not art,” he said (rather startlingly) to “Sunday Morning.” “I mean, one must understand that there’s a distinction between design, which has to do with planning and quantifiable results, and art, which has to do with metaphysics and spiritual consequences. So, you can’t get confused between those two ideas, although there are points at which they engage one another.”
From 2001: Watch Thalia Assuras’ “Sunday Morning” interview with Milton Glaser:
From 2001: Milton Glaser’s designing mind
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