Milton Glaser, the graphic designer behind the iconic I ♥ NY logo, has died on his 91st birthday.
A New York native, Glaser was born in the Bronx on June 26, 1929. He studied at Cooper Union and formed the graphic design firm Push Pin Studios after graduating.
He designed the iconic “I ♥ NY” logo in 1977 as part of a tourism campaign for New York State. According to New York, Glaser came up with the logo in the backseat of a cab after pitching a different one to the city.
Since then, the logo has become as central a symbol of New York City as the Statue of Liberty. It has been plastered on t-shirts, mugs and keychains all over the nation. He did the design totally free of charge. Never made a nickel on it.
The concept sketch for the logo, scrawled on a torn envelope in red crayon, is a part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art. MoMA also keeps a lithograph of another version of the logo, created after the Sept. 11 attacks, featuring a bruised heart.
He told the Village Voice in 2011,
“I’m flabbergasted by what happened to this little, simple, nothing of an idea. It just demonstrates that every once in a while you do something that can have enormous consequences.”
Glaser burst into the graphic design scene with his poster of Bob Dylan. The design was inspired by Marcel Duchamp‘s work and Islamic art and was commissioned by CBS Records and included in copies of Dylan’s “Greatest Hits” album.
He told the New York Times in 2001 that the poster was meant as a freebie to encourage album sales. Like his New York logo would years later, his Bob Dylan design took on a life of its own.
Glaser is also known for creating the Brooklyn Brewery Logo for his work on Mad Men among many other works. He is survived by his wife, Shirley.