Milton Glaser, a graphic designer best known for his “I ♥ NY” logo, passed away on Friday at age 91. Glaser branded New York and increased tourism to the city through the simple yet iconic I ♥ NY logo displayed on signs, shirts, and other memorabilia. Glaser also created brightly colored posters, magazines, and book covers like his 1967 poster of Bob Dylan, which was inspired by Marcel Duchamp and Islamic art.
A graduate of Cooper Union in 1951, Glaser studied etching with the still-life painter Giorgio Morandi at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy before becoming president of Push Pin Studio. He served as co-founder, president, and design director of New York Magazine, and he also collaborated with his wife Shirley Girton on a number of children’s books like If Apples Had Teeth.
The I ♥ NY logo was created for a 1977 campaign to promote tourism in New York State. The logo was sketched in red crayon on the back of an envelope during a taxi ride, and the simple black, white, and red logo instantly became a symbol of New York City. The innovative pop-style icon, perhaps inspired by Robert Indiana’s LOVE image, began appearing on white T-shirts, and the original concept sketch and presentation boards are currently at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Milton Glaser’s three posters. Images via the School of Visual Arts
Following 9/11, Glaser debuted a poster proclaiming “I ♥ New York More Than Ever” with a black stain on the lower left-hand side of the heart representing the tragedy. The design was distributed throughout the city and was reproduced on the front and back pages of The Daily News eight days later. Glaser also created three posters in 2017 for the subway as part of the School of Visual Art’s (SVA) “Underground Images” ad campaign. The colorful posters Give Help, To Dream Is Human, and It’s Not About Me, It’s About We were created as “a direct counterpoint to President Trump’s attack on humanity” and were debuted across subway stations.
Across the city, Glaser also designed projects for restaurateur Joe Baum, including the redesign of Windows on the World and the Big Kitchen food court in the World Trade Center. Additionally, he created the logo for the Brooklyn Brewery, inspired by the Brooklyn Dodgers design, as well as the AIDS logo for the World Health Organization. He was the first graphic designer to be awarded the National Medal of Arts.
“The word for beauty is often the word for good; the idea of the good and the idea of the beautiful are linked together by the language. And I’ve always believed that the idea of beauty and the idea of aesthetics are very much linked to a social benefit. That the species couldn’t survive without art, because art is a kind of mediating device in human culture. People need it to survive,” he said in a 2003 interview with Metropolis Magazine.
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