You know Milton Glaser’s work. You see it every day, on every coffee cup reading I LOVE NY. The mere mention of which makes Glaser sigh. “I don’t know how that happened,” he says, adding that he’s even seen an I LOVE NGORONGORO – Swahili for rhinoceros – bumper sticker. “I wish it would stop following me.”
He’s done other things you’ve seen, too. He designed this magazine’s swoopy logo 32 years ago, the Rainbow Room’s swinging décor, and the Bob Dylan poster with the kaleidoscope hair. “We worship people who have of-the-moment style,” says Steven Heller, author and editor of a bookshelf of design titles. “Milton represents the mid-to-late sixties, but his work extends beyond the range of the typically trendy.”
Fearing that his 30-year-old signature heart would be etched on his tombstone, Glaser is fighting back with a new book, Art Is Work (The Overlook Press), covering the second 25 years of his career, and a retrospective at the AIGA National Design Center – the first for a living designer. In it, you’ll find his work for the Trattoria Dell’Arte, the Brooklyn Brewery, and Grand Union. Designers travel from around the world to take his SVA summer course, he’s working on the identity campaign for Manhattan’s new Buddhist Museum, and he continues to mastermind the series of art is posters for SVA.
All of which he hopes will provide plenty of distraction from that perpetually popular heart. “You don’t have to be loyal to style,” Glaser insists. “You use style when it is useful – and then drop it like a hot potato.” But moma design curator Paola Antonelli doesn’t think he’ll ever shake the stubborn symbol: “The I LOVE NY logo could be the only thing he’d ever done,” she says, “and he would still be a genius.”