Milton Glaser, designer of the ‘I Love NY’ logo, dies at 91

NEW YORK – Milton Glaser, the groundbreaking graphic designer who adorned Bob Dylan’s silhouette with psychedelic hair and summed up feelings for his native New York with “I (HEART) NY”, died on Friday, his 91st birthday.

The cause was a stroke, and Glaser had also had kidney failure, his wife, Shirley Glaser, told the New York Times.

On posters, logos, advertisements, and book covers, Glaser’s ideas captured the spirit of the 1960s with some simple colors and shapes. He was the designer of the team that founded New York magazine with Clay Felker in the late 1960s.

“Around our office, of course, he will always be one of the small team of men and women who, in the late 1960s, pulled New York out of the newspaper morgue and turned it into a great American magazine,” says the magazine obituary. Glaser said.

Soon, city magazines everywhere were springing up and mimicking his simple and witty design style. When the publication of the Titan Rupert Murdoch forced Felker and Glaser to leave the New York magazine in a hostile acquisition in 1977, the staff retired in solidarity with their outgoing publishers, leaving an incomplete problem three days before it was released at the newsstands. .

“We have brought about, however small, a change in people’s visual habits,” he told The Washington Post in 1969. “Television conditions people to demand imagination.”

But he said he had to work to keep his style fresh.

“There is enormous pressure to repeat past successes. That is certain death. Referring to a beloved 1960s design motif, he added that he couldn’t make another rainbow “if my life depended on it.”

His pictorial sense was so profound, and his designs so influential, that his works in later years were preserved by collectors and studied as fine art.

But he preferred not to use the term “art” at all.

“What I am suggesting is that we drop the term art and that everything works,” Glaser said in an Associated Press interview in 2000, when the Philadelphia Museum of Art hosted an exhibition about his career. “When it’s really extraordinary and it moves it in a certain way, we call it a great job. We call it good when it performs a task, and we call it bad when a goal fails. ”

The bold “I (HEART) NY” logo, which cleverly used typewriter-style lettering as typography, was devised as part of an advertising campaign started in 1977 to boost the state’s image when crime and budget problems dominated headlines. Glaser did the design for free.

Almost a quarter of a century later, a few days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, he revised it, adding a dark scar to the red heart and “more than ever” to the message.

“I woke up on Wednesday morning and I said, ‘God, I have to do something to answer this,'” he told The New York Times. “When you have a heart attack, part of your heart dies. When you recover, part of your heart is gone, but the people in your life become much more important and there is a greater awareness of the value of things. “

Glaser had actually done design work for the restaurants at the destroyed World Trade Center complex.

His 1966 illustration of Dylan, his face was a simple black silhouette but his hair was sprouting in a riot of colors in a curvilinear shape, he graphically put the sixties philosophy that letting your hair fly was a way to free your mind . (For him, however, it was not a drug-inspired image: he said he borrowed from Marcel Duchamp and Islamic art.)

The poster was inserted into Dylan’s album “Greatest Hits”, making it available to millions of fans.

“It was a new use for the poster, a gift that was supposed to encourage people to buy the album,” Glaser told the New York Times in 2001. “It then took on a life of its own, appearing in movies, magazines.” , whatever is. He did not die, as those ephemeral forms usually do. “

Among Glaser’s other notable projects were the cover illustrations for Shakespeare’s Sigkes pocket editions; typographic designs such as Baby Teeth, first used on Dylan’s poster, and Glaser Stencil; and a poster for the Most Mozart Festival with a colorful Mozart sneeze. His designs also inspired the billboard for Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America”

Glaser was born in 1929 in the Bronx and studied at Cooper Union School of Art in New York and in Italy.

In 1954, he co-founded the innovative graphic design firm Push Pin Studios with Seymour Chwast and others. He stayed with him for 20 years before founding his own company.

He was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in 2004. In 2009, he received the National Medal of Arts.

“I just like doing everything, and I was always interested to see how far I could go to push the limits,” he said.