Say the name “Milton Glaser” and most people won’t have a clue who you’re talking about. But EVERYONE knows his work. In the graphic design world, he was an icon and pioneer. His drive and passion for his craft shows in the longevity and variation of his projects. He even continued designing late into his 80s. Glaser’s artwork, business branding, and graphic design work has been seen by millions and millions of people worldwide and is sure to be seen by millions more for decades to come.
JUNE 26th, 1929 – JUNE 26th, 2020
As a designer, Glaser loved color and movement. Some of his pieces were psychedelic and electrifying while others were more simple and commercial to fit the client. He had a unique way of capturing the essence of the company & their message and conveying it with their new branding. From wine labels, to beer brands, to media publications, to music and tv covers, Milton Glaser could tell a story with his intelligent design. And he was old-school: even after the rise of technology, Glaser did NOT like working on a computer.
You can see his inspiration from other artists in his work as well. His work for The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences is “A surrealist design that lies somewhere between Dalí and Diego Rivera.” Spanish painter Pablo Picasso and Italian painter Giorgio Morandi gave Glaser a perspective on both art and lifestyle. “The two polar influences of my life are Picasso and Morandi. Picasso was a man who wanted everything, all the women, all the fame, all the money, all the success — all the everything. And Morandi, he wanted nothing. I always tried to be in the middle … to realize you don’t have to be one or the other.” SOURCE
I Love NY
Undoubtedly Milton Glaser’s best known creation, the I Love New York logo was actually commissioned by New York state in 1977 to boost marketing and increase tourism across the entire state. Glaser came up with the idea in the back of a taxi and did not expect the campaign to last very long or become as wildly popular as it did so he created the design for free. It unintentionally became the most prominent piece of advertising for a U.S. city (despite being meant for the state as a whole) and one of the most recognizable symbols for NYC worldwide.
Accolades & Achievements
A man of many talents, Milton was definitely recognized as such. Here is a brief (and incomplete) rundown of his accomplishments, achievements, and awards:
- Solo art shows at prominent galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art
- Cofounder of New York magazine (1968) – Glaser was president and design director for nearly a decade
- In 1974, Milton Glaser, Inc. was born and Glaser ran his own design studio that dipped into multiple areas of design and marketing
- His work is included in permanent installations at many incredible art museums, including the MOMA (NY), Smithsonian Institute (DC), and The Israel Museum (Jerusalem)
- Lifetime Achievement Awards – from both Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (2004) and the Fulbright Association (2011)
- Barack Obama presented him with the National Medal of the Arts award in 2009 – “I wish my mother was alive to see this,” Glaser said.
Milton Glaser was honored with a documentary about his work (To Inform and Delight: The World of Milton Glaser) and a 2019 tribute to him in The New York Times. The world (and not just the graphic design world) lost an artist and visionary on June 26th, 2020. Milton Glaser passed away on his 91st birthday but his work will live on and continue to inspire future generations of graphic designers and artists alike. We honor Milton’s designs & legacy and hope that you enjoyed learning and reading about a truly impressive creative.
See below for more examples of his works, all sourced from his site.