In the pantheon of graphic icons — think the smiley face and the peace sign — perhaps no image is more instantly recognizable, more frequently appropriated and manipulated, or more likely to induce a smug self-satisfaction of being “in” on the joke than the “I Love NY” logo. Its ubiquity imbues it with the air of a foregone conclusion; it seems an inevitability of design, inherent to our human experience. In truth, the image, created in 1977, is a mere 43 years old, and its creator, Milton Glaser, never expected its lifespan to extend beyond the three-month advertising campaign for which it was commissioned.
New York States of Mind had the great fortune of a warm welcome — cameraman included — into Mr. Glaser’s studio, located on East 32nd Street in Manhattan. Though just three weeks shy of 84 at the time of our visit, Mr. Glaser was working diligently in the studio, just as he does every day, creating new work for longtime clients (like Brooklyn Brewery, whose logo was designed by Mr. Glaser), while also accepting first-time commissions and embarking on new projects (which we’re helping to keep under wraps for now). It is worth mentioning that Mr. Glaser works not because he must, but because he likes to. A co-founder of Push Pin Studios in the 1950s with classmates from The Cooper Union, he co-founded New York Magazine in 1968 and was its president and design director until 1977; the original logo designed by Mr. Glaser is still used today. His client list is extensive and diverse, and includes the likes of Bob Dylan, JetBlue, the erstwhile World Trade Center, Grand Union Company grocery store chain, the School of Visual Arts and on and on.
We sat with Mr. Glaser before the same table at which he founded New York Magazine so many years ago. Watch the video below to hear incredible stories from one of the world’s greatest minds. We leave you with this dazzling quote, straight from the mouth of someone who personifies our sense of the New York spirit:
“Somebody once..they did a weekend conference on ‘doubt in the creative process’...I hate that word, ‘creative.’ And they said, ‘Well, what do you do with doubt, when you doubt, what do you do?” And I said, “You embrace it.” Because doubt is the great, is a great, device for inquiry. In design, you always have to be purposeful, but if you’re too purposeful it leads you to, as we were talking earlier, predictables or inevitable solutions that, maybe, without the imagination, are just...appropriate. So that question, that balance between not knowing what you’re doing, and professional skill at what you’re doing, there’s a dialectic between those two that you have to get right. Because if you know too much about what you’re doing before you do it, the work is half-dead when it arrives.”
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