A Reflection on Milton Glaser and “I ❤️ NY”
“I imagine he would be amused by the controversy over the dismal remake but he would likely quickly steer the conversation to…”
By Anne Quito. Published March 24, 2023
Sending Milton various adaptations of I ❤️ NY was a common gag among his friends and fans over the years. I ❤️ Lahore, I ❤️ Greece, I ❤️ Macedonia, etc… Milton would often say that he was perplexed how this “little item” became so calcified in popular culture. I imagine he would be amused by the controversy over the dismal remake but he would likely quickly steer the conversation to something he was working on that day. He was never one to dwell on past laurels.
To me, the creation story of the I ❤️ NY logo exemplifies Milton’s work ethos. Unlike the new version which apparently took a year and $20 million to finalize, he came up with it in a flash. In the book Sketch and Finish, he describes that this was actually his second attempt:
The idea for I Love NY came to me in a cab days after the state accepted a typographic mark* I came up with. I was doodling on the way to a client meeting and another idea suggested itself. Somehow, I managed to convince Bill Doyle, the assistant commissioner of commerce, to consider the new design and get it approved.
(The original design was a lozenge-shaped graphic, akin to how he’d sign his name in posters during the early Pushpin days.)
Note that the solution came to him en route to another client. Milton preferred working on multiple projects at the same time, like a chef with several pots on the stove. Instead of feeling burdened, he often found that working on one assignment fed another — more associative nodes in his lively mind.
Anne Quito is a journalist and design critic based in New York City.
A former staff reporter at Quartz, she recently joined Amazon to edit a new magazine about design. Anne wrote “Mag Men: Fifty Years of Making Magazines,” (Columbia University Press, 2019) a book about the glory days of magazine design as told by design legends Milton Glaser and Walter Bernard. She is the first recipient of the Steven Heller Prize for Cultural Commentary.
Her writing also appears in The Atlantic, CNN, Architectural Digest, Town and Country, Metropolis, Design Observer, Works That Work, A24, and Eye on Design. Anne’s analysis of Emmanuel Macron’s symbolic presidential portrait garnered a Malofiej26 medal; SABEW — The Association for Business Journalists gave a first prize award to her investigation into the growing monopoly within the font industry in its “2022 Best in Business Awards”.
An experienced speaker and moderator, Anne has presented at TED Global, Harvard School of Design, SxSW, the Type Directors Club, AIGA, the Van Alen Institute, Adobe, the School of Visual Arts, ELISAVA, WHO/PAHO, and the CDC. She has also been a guest commentator on the BBC, CBC Radio, and Monocle.
She graduated from Georgetown University with a master’s degree in Visual Culture in 2009 and is an alumna of the School of Visual Arts Design Criticism MFA program.
Anne is currently researching Milton Glaser’s biography,