Saturday, January 18, 2014

Color Icon: Milton Glaser



Everyone knows Milton Glaser, everyone. Even if you don't know his name you likely know a design he created in 1977 for the New York Tourism board. I love New York, a simple grid of three letters and a heart, has outperformed even Milton's wildest dreams for the logo. It has gone on to not only spread all over the world but it has spawned an entire industry of imitation logos. And if imitation really is the finest form of flattery, the I love New York is a world favorite because the Tourism board had filed more than 3,000 suits against imitators.

The popularity of this one image had been so all encompassing that many people miss the lovely, broad, and colorful portfolio of the man who created it. Glaser, born in 1929, a New York native, has made a lifetime of simple and striking design work but one of the best example of his work with color is the album covers he made for Columbia Records artists, including Bob Dylan.





His prowess for creating images for music also included magazine covers, like this one for Eye magazine featuring Aretha Franklin.


Glaser's work and that of Push Pin studios (the graphic design house he founded with fellow Cooper Union graduates Seymour Chwast, Reynold Ruffins, and Edward Sorel, in 1954) cut a huge swath through the design field. Their work has become a central reference in graphic design. Later in 1974 Milton ventured off on his own and founded his own design firm.

All images property of Milton Glaser
Milton Glaser had a habit of questioning the core beliefs of graphic design. Take the assumption that 'If you have to explain it, it's not working.' This is an oft repeated assumption in graphic design because the poster or logo or design will have to stand on its own. But Milton tried other strategies. What if he made images that weren't clear on first glance, images that illicit more curiosity  involvement from the readers.  He used changes in perspective, cutting posters at odd angles and using isometric grids all to catch the eye and engage the mind for the viewer.  Here is a great TED Talk by him of you want to know about his design process and work.

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