Celebrating the Legacy of Milton Glaser

By Peggy Roalf   Thursday February 11, 2021

The artistry of Milton Glaser is surely key to the mark he has left on our ways of looking at, and thinking about, the world we live in. In his seven decades behind a pencil, Milton looked and thought twice about more subjects than there is space here to mention. 

Milton’s legacy will be celebrated by a panel of designers who will gather online on Wednesday, February 24thGail AndersonWalter BernardSeymour ChwastStephen DoyleSteven HellerMirko Ilic, Jonathan KeyEllen LuptonReynold RuffinsZipeng Zhu This event is being hosted by Type at Cooper/The Cooper Union School of Art, and sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery, whose logo Milton designed. Register


The list of Milton’s accomplishments is encyclopedic, ranging from books, periodicals and posters - the usual province of graphic designers - as well as to films, restaurant interiors and public artworks. But just considering a few ideas that made New York Magazine completely unique when it broke free of the New York Herald Tribune to become a stand-alone “service magazine” in 1968, you get the idea. Under the direction of co-founders Clay Felker as publisher, and Milton, it was the first of its kind and became the model for city magazines that proliferated in its wake.

A scrappy startup always out of money, New York was host to Milton’s talents in every department. When there was no cover ready to print, he would often come up with something on the spot, sometimes doing the illustration himself, or getting something equally brilliant from one of his colleagues at Push Pin Studios (which he co-founded in 1954 with Seymour Chwast, Edward Sorel, and Reynold Ruffins).

And he wrote. Starting with the first issue, Milton created the Underground Gourmet together with his friend Jerome Snyder, then design director of Sports IllustratedChris Bonanos, writing this week in New York, says the regular feature became "very possibly the world’s first columnists covering cheap ethnic restaurants in a sophisticated way. That sounds like no big deal now, but it was a minor revolution in 1968. As Glaser himself would explain when asked, nobody back then bothered to cover restaurants outside the white-tablecloth world, because they didn’t advertise. 

But as hardcore New Yorkers, Glaser and Snyder knew that a whole lot of us love nothing more than a great Chinatown dumpling joint, or a superior taco stand, or a scoop of perfect whitefish salad, or a bowl of udon. He brought all of those and more to New York’s early readership, and everyone — from the Times on down — soon started doing the same. Vernacular rather than dressy food, today, is the dominant restaurant experience in New York, not to mention the dominant subject of the city’s restaurant coverage, and a major branch of its family tree starts with Glaser and Snyder.”

During the fiscal crisis of 1977, Milton produced a job for the New York State Board of Economic Development that has made the designer as close as one of that stripe can get to being a household name: the "I [Heart] New York" logo, which he famously sketched on a napkin during a cab ride, and did pro bono. The logo went on to produce $millions in income for the the state, and even more for the thousands of ripoff artists who continue to slap it on every printable surface imaginable.

After Rupert Murdoch acquired the magazine in a hostile takeover in 1979, Milton returned to the more dignified if still profoundly creative work of being a graphic designer, magazine designer, and a long-time faculty and board member at School of Visual Arts. 

Credits, from the top down: Catalina Kulczar for Elle Décor, 2017Visual Arts Gallery, “Big Nude” exhibition poster, 1966Milton, left, around 1970 with Clay Felker at New York Magazine. Cosmos Andrew Sarchiapone, Archives of American Art/Smithsonian InstitutionBob Dylan poster for Columbia Records, 1966.

Note from the Home Office

AP37 Call For Entries – With Reduced Fees – Closes Tuesday, February 16th! American Photography 37 | Still / Here.. Enter here


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