There can be few more iconic and recognisable graphic images than I ❤️ NY.
Designed by Milton Glaser (b.1929), and first used in 1977, as logo for an advertising campaign to promote tourism in New York City and State. The logo, is simplicity itself and consists of just three capital letters I, N and Y – in the rounded slab serif typeface called “American Typewriter” – and a red heart symbol.
In 1976 against a background of crime, threatened City bankruptcy and a garbage workers strike, New York State needed a makeover and it was thought that tourism would provide a partial solution. Dr. Mark Donnelly, the Art Director for New York State, hired an advertising agency to develop a promotional campaign and Milton Glaser, already known graphic designer, to create a design based on agency’s slogan – “I Love New York”.
Mr Glaser is also well known for his many iconic posters for the Arts and Entertainment community in particularly New York City but also for commercial operations such as D.C. Comics for whom he developed the circular “bullet” logo which was used by the comic company until 2005.
His famous poster featuring a psychedelic silhouette of Bob Dylan, was commissioned by Columbia Records in 1967 as an insert into the gatefold sleeve of a Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits release.
Legend has it that Mr Glaser’s original sketch to accompany the agency’s slogan was conceived in a taxi and executed in what looks like red pencil. Given the extraordinary success of the logo, we understand that Mr Glaser thought the campaign would be short lived so agree to work pro bono. Of course, the TV advertising campaign was a huge success and New York tourism boomed.
Museum of Modern Art (New York) has the Mr Glaser’s original concept sketch and presentation boards as part of its permanent collection. His work is also held by the Smithsonian (Washington DC) and the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum (New York).
Visitors to New York City, which has become synonymous with the logo – which was not, apparently, the original intention – will no doubt be tempted to buy a piece of memorabilia with the iconic logo on it. T shirts are very popular and the logo now appears with the “R” denoting a registered trademark. In fact, the New York State Department of Economic Development now holds over 15 federal trademark registrations, in various configurations, for the “I ❤️ NY” logo and proactively serves “cease and desist” letters to those who use the logo without appropriate permission.
The logo is a pop-culture icon and has inspired extensive alternative uses. A simple Google search reveals “I (heart) Amazon.com”, “I (heart) Boobs”, “I (heart) Ugg” and “I (heart) Books”. In addition, the logo has appeared in street graffiti by Banksy and Nick Walker’s “Love Vandal” (below) appears in a number of locations in the City but here it is in an open car park at 17th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.
Please note my blog post is not approved, endorsed or associated with the New York State Department of Economic Development.
Picture credits: Milton Glaser and Columbia Records with grateful thanks