Milton Glaser (1929 – 2020)

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Legendary graphic designer Milton Glaser died on 26 June, his 91st birthday.

Glaser is perhaps best known for creating the iconic I *heart* New York logo, which he gifted to the city of his birth in 1977.

Legend has it that he drew the logo on a torn envelope with a red crayon in the back of a taxi cab on the way back from a client meeting, where he had pitched a completely different idea.

You can see the original sketch as part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art.

The logo is now ubiquitous in New York and beyond, plastered on t-shirts and mugs, fridge magnets and bumper stickers.

“I’m flabbergasted by what happened to this little, simple, nothing of an idea,” he once said.

“It just demonstrates that every once in a while you do something that can have enormous consequences… it was a bunch of little scratches on a piece of paper!”

Other highlights from Glaser’s illustrious career include a series of influential book covers in the 1960s; many strikingly beautiful poster campaigns, including for Olivetti during the 70s; and the brilliant Brooklyn Brewery logo, made in the 90s (for which he was paid in beer and given a small stake in the company, which ended up being worth millions).

According to the New York Times Glaser was working on a new project at the time of his death. It was a graphical treatment of the word “Together,” intended to evoke the idea that while separated during the pandemic, “we have something in common.”

In his last interview Glaser explained, “When you watch television now it’s so depressing. This sense of inertia, of not being able to determine your own future, it’s very eroding. All we can do is have this sense that we are not alone.

“I know this [pandemic] is a cosmic change and that nothing will ever be the same again. But I do know that if there’s a collective consciousness, if we realise we are all related and we need one another, that would be the best thing that could happen.”

A version of this article was published as part of a weekly column by Guy Cookson on marketing, design, trends and strategy in the Lancaster Guardian, Blackpool Gazette and Lancashire Post. See our brand, web design and marketing recent projects.

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