Glaser was born on June 26, 1929, in The Bronx, New York City. His parents, Eugene and Eleanor, were Hungarian Jewish immigrants. The family resided in the South Bronx. His father owned a dry-cleaning and tailoring shop; his mother was a homemaker. Glaser took drawing classes with artists Raphael and Moses Soyer, before attending the High School of Music & Art in Manhattan. After graduating from the Cooper Union in New York City, Reynold Ruffins, Seymour Chwast, Edward Sorel and Glaser founded Push Pin Studios in 1954. Glaser joined after his return from Italy. In 1957, the "Push Pin Monthly Graphic" was sent out to friends and clients. The studio's work rejected tradition and favored "reinvigorated interpretations of historical styles". Glaser and Seymour Chwast directed Push Pin for twenty years, while it became a guiding reference in the world of graphic design. The studio "redefined and expanded the imprimatur of the designer, illustrator, and visual culture at large". Glaser started his own design firm, Milton Glaser Inc, in 1974 and left Push Pin the following year. In 1983, Glaser teamed up with Walter Bernard and started a publication design firm called WBMG in New York City. WBMG has designed more than 50 magazines, newspapers and periodicals around the world. Over his career, Glaser personally designed and illustrated more than 400 posters. His work is displayed in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, New York; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. His work has also been featured in exhibits all over the world. He also did one-man shows at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1988 Glaser designed the New York City Shelly Fireman owned Italianate eatery Trattoria Dell'Arte across from Carnegie Hall. Glaser was the subject of the 2008 documentary film To Inform and Delight: The World of Milton Glaser. A tribute to Glaser, still working in his 90th year, was published in The New York Times in 2019. Glaser died of a stroke and renal failure in New York City on his 91st birthday on June 26, 2020.
Bob Dylan poster
In 1966, Glaser designed a poster for Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits. It was one of Glaser's first posters. The poster depicts the profile of Dylan's face with psychedelic, swirly hair, with "Dylan" written at the bottom in Baby Teeth, one of Glaser's typefaces. His inspiration for the poster was Marcel Duchamp's 1957 Self-Portrait; and Art Nouveau, "That was an influence for the colors and shapes in the picture." Six million posters have been printed and distributed, and sell for hundreds of dollars as collectables.
I Love New York logo
One of Glaser's most recognizable works is his I Love New York logo. In the mid-1970s, New York City's crime rate was up and the city was widely perceived to be dangerous and was on the verge of bankruptcy. In 1977, the State of New York hired advertising agency Wells Rich Greene and Milton Glaser to design a logo to increase tourism. It was Glaser who came up with the design while sitting in the back of a taxi cab on the way to the meeting. The logo consists of the capital "I" and a red heart, stacked on top of the letters "NY" in American Typewritertypeface, symbolizing New York. His inspiration for the logo was Robert Indiana's LOVE design, with the four letters stacked on top of each other. "Glaser loved New York so much that he gave his work to the city for free, hoping it would become public property." The logo earns New York state $30 million each year and has become a pop culture icon and is reproduced on everything from coffee cups to T-shirts and hats. The logo can be seen everywhere in New York City. Robert Indiana's work influenced Glaser who in turn has inspired other designers to create variations on the layout, for example "I Heart Radio". The state has filed nearly 3,000 objections against them. After the September 11 Terrorist attacks, the logo has become even more of a symbol, creating unity between the public. Glaser even designed a modified version saying, "I Love New York More than Ever", in response to the attacks. The red Heart had a small blackened and burned area along one edge to symbolize the attack on the World Trade Center site.
In 1968, Glaser and Clay Felker teamed up and started New York magazine. The magazine was about being on the reader's side, "it was about what was happening in New York City at the time." One example of this is "The Underground Gourmet". It was about cheap restaurants in New York. Glaser wrote the article for seven years with Jerome Snyder. It was one of the most popular columns in the magazine. New York "became the model for the city magazines, and stimulated a host of imitations". Glaser left the magazine in 1977. In 1993, thanks to Glaser's history with New York, he was tapped by John F. Kennedy Jr., in conjunction with his partner Michael J. Berman, to work with them to create the image they were seeking for their start-up magazine George.
In 1970, Glaser designed his namesake typeface, , which drew inspiration from geometric sans-serif fonts such as Futura and Avant Garde.