Why Milton Glaser’s iconic I ❤ NY design is so good


A look at why Milton Glaser’s iconic I ❤ NY design is so good and still resonates in its original form.

At its core, Milton Glaser’s design is an exceptionally good idea, delivered with the utmost simplicity, which in turn is timeless.

The design/concept is based on grafitti. It was a common site to see carved into a tree a declaration of love using initials to keep the person’s identity secret.

To increase legibility, the carver of the message would add serifs, the small elements at the end of letters on serif fonts. Thus the font American Typewriter is a very nice approximation of that style due to the serifs, and the informal nature of the font – hand carved letters by non-professionals would have a loose feel to them.

Key to the concept working is that New York can be reduced to two letters, albeit NY would never have been what the city was ever known as, in the way LA is for Los Angeles. However such is the ubiquity and success of Milton’s design, NY became immediately, visually at least, recognizable as New York.

Within the composition, the text perfectly balances the heart icon. The text is angular and monochromatic, filling 75% of the design, balanced in the other quarter with the round edges and high impact use of colour in the heart symbol. The smooth rounded edges on the font, keep the whole design warm and friendly.

The choice of the font was never in fashion, so the design/concept never went out of fashion, nor became dated.

Simple, powerful, clever, fun, most importantly original, much copied, but never bettered. Perfect for New York in the 1970s and beyond.

I am not going to criticise the 2022 update. It is too easy to be negative and unfair on the individuals involved when the brief isn’t public, and ultimately it lead me to love the original even more, and want to learn more about the late great Milton Glaser. Here’s to Milton! miltonglaser.com


By Milton Glaser – Extracted from http://www.iloveny.com/gtc/GTC_Sponsorship_and_Contract.pdf, Public Domain, Link.