Ask anyone who knows anything about the history of graphic design, and they’ll probably mention the name Milton Glaser. That’s because Glaser – graphic designer, illustrator, and founder of New York Magazine –is one of the most influential pioneers in the art form’s history. Since his first foray into designing graphics more than 60 years ago, Glaser has produced a vast body of work – one that has had an indelible influence both on the art of design and the field of branding at large.
Milton Glaser got his start in the arts in high school in New York City, where he attended the High School of Music and Art (now LaGuardia High School). He then studied design at Cooper Union and the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. After graduating school in 1954, Glaser launched graphic design firm Push Pin Studios, and since, his career has spanned a vast array of undertakings in art, media, and marketing.
Glaser’s designs have become some of the most recognizable images in the world. Among his most famous are the iconic I <3 NY, DC Comics, and Brooklyn Brewery logos. What made Glaser’s work so seminal was that it was the first to reject the minimalism of the age in which he was designing. Rather than thin lines and severe typefaces, Glaser chose to center his design around bold colors, thick lines, and a sense of whimsy and fun. Glaser created designs that felt approachable, relatable and friendly, and thus, created images that stuck in the consciousnesses of the people who saw them. It’s no wonder that his I <3 NY logo is believed to be the most reproduced image in the world; with its symmetrical construction, bold typewriter font, and bright, contrasting red and black color scheme, the image drew people in, and inherently encouraged them to pass it along. Glaser proved to his peers that graphics could be fun and creative, yet still smart and articulate.
Despite Glaser’s reputation as a colorful and playful artist, historians and critics across the world consider his work anything but frivolous. In fact, his designs been displayed in some of the world’s most famous fine art institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, and the Vicenza Museum in Venice. He was also awarded the National Medal of the Arts by Barack Obama in 2009 – a sure sign that his work has had an enduring effect on both the arts, as well as popular culture, at large.