“I Love New York”: From Contract Job to International Icon
Milton Glaser (b.1929) is among the most celebrated graphic designers in the United States. He has had the distinction of one-man-shows at the Museum of Modern Art and the Georges Pompidou Center. In 2004 he was selected for the lifetime achievement award of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum. As a Fulbright scholar, Glaser studied with the painter, Giorgio Morandi in Bologna, and is an articulate spokesman for the ethical practice of design. He opened Milton Glaser, Inc. in 1974, and continues to produce work in many fields of design to this day.
Question: Are you ever annoyed by the prevalence of the “I Love New York” logo?
Milton Glaser: No, I am not, in any way, annoyed about that. I am astonished, but I am not annoyed. I mean, you very rarely do anything in your life that gets exploited, if you will, or recognized or observed or used to the extent that that has been. I don't get it. I don't know why it became an icon that moved around the world, where you can't go out in the street—for instance, we'll go out after this broadcast and we will encounter at least 20 “I Love New York's” on the street as we walk across town. I did the bloody thing in 1975 and I thought it would last a couple of months as a promotion; why it has persisted in people's consciousness for such a long time is totally miraculous. And since most of us were involved in design and were interested in having our work have an effect in the world, it is a great pleasure for me to see that it is still being used and it's still around, that it still seems to be affective. It's a great thing to have happened for me.
Question: Are you upset you don’t have the trademark to the image?
Milton Glaser: Well I think you get annoyed if something you had done had been exploited by others and they made insufferable amount of money doing it and you had done. So under those conditions I can see somebody getting angry because “I could have…” and so on. But for me it's not the case. First of all, I have enough money and I've never worried about it. And just the pervasiveness of it is a great pleasure.
Recorded on: August 27, 2009
While many artists become annoyed by or even disown their most iconic works, Milton Glaser has nothing but appreciation for the success of his "I Love New York" image—even though he doesn’t own the copyright.
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