Thursday, March 24, 2011

Milton Glaser's "I ♥ NY" Logo - Its Humble Beginnings

Concept sketch of the logo (1976), ink and tape on paper envelope, 2 7/8 x 3 5/8"
Concept sketch (top), concept layout (bottom left), and two presentation boards (bottom middle and right)
The humble beginnings of the iconic "INY" logo by American artist MILTON GLASER (born 1929) are currently on display at the Museum of Modern Art (third floor). In 1977, New York State needed a new ad campaign. Crime was rampant, the city's coffers were empty, businesses were leaving the city in droves, and tourism was down. The New York State Department commissioned the advertising agency Wells Rich Greene to develop a positive campaign about  New York, and Glaser, a well known designer, to capture it. The logo was designed pro bono. Mr. Glaser compared this rudimentary rebus to a declaration of love carved into a tree trunk. Expecting it only to 'be a three-month campaign', Glaser donated his back of a taxi doodle for free; 'it was like one of those things you bang out because it didn't seem to merit any more attention'. Many years later, the INY logo remains one of the most recognizable and frequently imitated designs in the world. Still cited on licensed and unlicensed merchandise across the city and internationally, it's has taken on a life of its own. The design was copyrighted after about 10 years of open use. (information derived in part from the gallery caption).