Milton Glaser has died

Penguin_Koningsberger_An American Romance_Milton Glaser illustration, 1960s
Cover illustration by Milton Glaser, Penguin, 1964

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 of 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. His psychedelic posters for the final season of TV’s Mad Men were plastered on 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. 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 in a recorded interview with Mike Dempsey) which doesn’t sound like much but in today’s money equal to £300 and 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, including line drawings and watercolours, and they 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. These examples of Glaser’s Penguin are from the mid-1960s.


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