New Yorker Milton Glaser, creator of the “I Love NY” logo, passed away at 91

Milton Glaser, the designer whose artwork helped define the visual soul and identity of modern New York City, died on Friday. He passed away on his birthday at the age of 91.

His wife Shirley Glaser told the New York Times that he died after a stroke and that he had recently suffered from kidney failure.

Glaser’s tireless production over decades of work is limited by what is probably his best-known work: the iconic I Love NY logo with a heart instead of the word “love,” recognized by tourists and locals alike.

A new promotional

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A new promotional sign “I Love NY” is located at the Empire State Plaza for installation in front of the New York State Capitol in Albany in 2019.

Hans Pennink / AP / Shutterstock

But for New Yorkers, their work permeates everyday life, from the design of the Brooklyn Brewery beer labels to the Stony Brook University logo, to the launch of New York magazine and its underground gourmet food column dedicated to delicious food. cheap.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Milton Glaser, a longtime New Yorker who designed the famous I Love New York logo. The logo was the perfect logo at the time it was created and continues to be today,” said the Governor. Andrew Cuomo. in a statement on Saturday. “What Milton Glaser gave New York will survive for a long time. On behalf of the New York family, my thoughts go out to Milton’s loved ones today, especially his wife Shirley. We lost a brilliant designer and a great New Yorker.” .

Glaser was a quintessential New Yorker from his bones: “Born in the Bronx on June 26, 1929, he was a public school boy of the stickball generation, the son of Jewish immigrants from Hungary,” according to Christopher Bonanos of New magazine. York. .

Glaser studied at what is now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia College of Music, Art and Performing Arts, then attended Cooper Union and studied at the Italian Academy of Fine Arts on a Fulbright scholarship. When she returned to New York, Glaser formed Push Pin Studios with other Cooper Union graduates, among her notable creations are the covers of Shakespeare de Penguin, Signet Classic Series, according to the Times.

His career forever changed in 1966. After being injured in a serious motorcycle accident, Bob Dylan was rumored to be dead. His CBS Records label decided to release “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits” and commissioned Glaser to design a poster “to generate positive publicity for his next album,” according to the Museum of Modern Art website.

Dylan’s resulting work of art, standing with its locks curled into psychedelic Medusa locks, employed Islamic art forms in an evocative rebuke of the singer’s alleged disappearance. “The energetic design with its swirling colors evokes the visual effects of psychedelic drugs that were gaining popularity among members of the counterculture,” said MOMA, who has the poster in its permanent collection.

In a 2017 interview with Gothamist in his studio to mark the 50th anniversary of the Dylan poster, Glaser said the poster was an example of how design can also achieve the state of the art.

“What does that image have that has made it a desirable object for so long? Yes, it is linked to that moment in time, a nostalgia for that time. But that is not the whole story,” he said, delving into “the distinction between design and art, and the importance of understanding that distinction. “

“Design always has a purpose. You target an audience, because you want to motivate them to act, to buy something, generally. Art, on the other hand, is a mechanism for transforming the brain so that human beings can find things in common”. Art is a survival mechanism. It was invented to help us learn how to share an experience, which means we are less likely to kill ourselves. “

A sketch of the Dylan poster.

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A sketch of the Dylan poster.

Scott Heins / Gothamist

In 1968 Glaser partnered with Clay Felker to launch the current version of New York Magazine, creating the firm’s expanding font. He also used his magazine platform to advocate for the incredible variety of affordable food for immigrants in New York City that was later ignored by critics.

“Starting in our first issues, Glaser and his friend Jerome Snyder, the design director for Sports Illustrated, created ‘The Underground Gourmet’, possibly becoming the world’s first columnists to cover cheap ethnic restaurants in a sophisticated way,” Bonanos wrote. . “That doesn’t sound like much now, but it was a minor revolution in 1968. As Glaser himself would explain when asked, no one bothered to cover restaurants outside the world of white tablecloths, because they didn’t advertise.” But as hardcore New Yorkers, Glaser and Snyder knew that many of us love nothing more than a great Chinatown dumplings place, or a top taco stand, or a tablespoon of perfect white fish salad, or a bowl of udon. It brought all of that and more to New York’s first readers, and everyone from the Times onwards soon started doing the same. Vernacular rather than elegant food today is the dominant restaurant experience in New York, not to mention the dominant theme of the city’s restaurant coverage, and a major branch of their family tree begins with Glaser and Snyder. “

Glaser’s logo “I Love NY” was hastily sketched on a torn red crayon envelope during a taxi ride. He did the pro bono work for a 1977 advertising campaign to help the sick city boost tourism during a fiscal crisis. “He seems to have enjoyed the myriad of permutations, parodies, and scams he has generated,” Bonanos wrote. Glaser told Village Voice in a 2011 interview, “It just goes to show that every once in a while you do something that can have huge consequences … it was a bunch of little scratches on a piece of paper! I’m amazed at the amount of money. They bring. I went to Chinatown a few months ago, and it had transformed into millions of “I Love New York” T-shirts on every building and facade. It amazes me. “

He also noted that New York State threatened to sue him after Glaser made a version of I Love NY after the September 11 attacks:

“It also amazes me how indifferent the state is to all of that. When I made ‘I love New York more than ever’ [after 9/11], the state threatened to sue me, they said I was infringing on copyright. When you deal with any bureaucracy, you realize that they are so indifferent to anyone other than themselves, “Glaser told La Voz.

Meanwhile, it was his job in designing the Brooklyn Brewery logo that kept Glaser financially comfortable. Bonanos wrote: “In the mid-1980s, Steve Hindy and Tom Potter, the founders of a new microbrewery, turned to him to design a logo. Glaser glanced at his proposed name: Brooklyn Eagle, recalling the late newspaper, and, as he told the story, offered key advice. “Anheuser-Busch already has the eagle,” he told them. “You have Brooklyn. That’s enough! “Brooklyn Brewery, with his swoopy baseball jersey logo evoking the late Dodgers and a swirl of beer foam, made his debut in 1988.”

A photo of a glass pint with the Brooklyn Brewery logo.

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Brooklyn brewery

Ibl / Shutterstock

Glaser decided to take a stake in the company because the startup couldn’t pay him a fee. “Today, the Brooklyn Brewery is a great global brand, and, as Glaser told me a couple of years ago, that’s what made him financially independent, enough to keep him in cabs, and then some, eagerly drawing, for the rest. of his life. “Of all the work I’ve done!” he said, laughing, in that inimitable voice, “wrote New York magazine.

In the Voice interview, Glaser said his life was only possible in New York City:

“I have lived in other places, but there is no other place for me. Professionally, there is no other place with the same opportunity. As difficult as it is to find it, it is still here. If you are someone like me, where you work is fundamental to your identity and This is the place where it happens. For the last 100 years, perhaps more, it has been the place of greatest opportunity for those who want something deeply in their lives. “