Milton Glaser, influential star of design and illustration and co-founder of New York’s famous Push Pin Studios in 1954, has died at age 91.
Glaser mastered every branch of the design profession including advertising, graphic design and illustration, and held fine art exhibitions of his own work. He had a prominent public persona as teacher and communicator about design matters, on an international level. He is probably best known to the general public for his 1966 Bob Dylan poster, and for his 1970s I ❤ NY logo. In more recent years, his psychedelic posters for the final season of Mad Men plastered New York bus stops when I last visited in 2014.
Glaser was a prolific designer of book covers through much of his career, most memorably in his long series of pen and ink Shakespeare covers for Signet (see below). He illustrated for many book publishers, including Penguin which commissioned a small number of covers in the 1960s. Their rate was £15 per cover (according to Ivan Chermayeff) which doesn’t sound like much but in today’s money is equal to £300 and so probably worth taking on as part of the flow of a busy studio.
“It was always thrilling to get an assignment from Penguin because you knew they stood for an idea of quality that seemed to go beyond the issues of simple commerce.”
Glaser’s Penguin designs are varied in technique, and include line drawings and watercolours, and have a bold visual impact in the confined space of a book cover. They are amongst the best covers of the whole Marber grid period.
“Working for Penguin in the early sixties made you feel sophisticated and part of a continuing cultural exploration.”
Glaser’s long-running Signet Books series of Shakespeare covers are his “masterpiece” in the book cover genre. They ran for several years from the early 1960s. Despite that, these comments from itsnicethat.com could also apply to his Penguin designs:
“His Shakespeare covers seem only half finished, depicting loose illustrations … that trail off in swirling lines to the outer edges of the page. It’s an approach that can be traced to his time in Bologna, studying with artist Giorgio Morandi. This defining moment led to a career-long fascination with omission, or of “What you leave out,” as Glaser puts it.” – www.itsnicethat.com