How I Got Here: Milton Glaser

We talk to renowned graphic designer Milton Glaser about turning 90, what’s wrong with design today and why retirement is the furthest thing from his mind

In June this year, American graphic designer Milton Glaser turned 90 years old. In the years preceding this landmark birthday, Glaser cemented himself as “the embodiment of American graphic design”. Born and bred in New York, Glaser co-founded the innovative Push Pin Studios in 1954 with Seymour Chwast, and co-founded New York Magazine with Clay Felker in 1968 as a competitor to The New Yorker. Six years later he established Milton Glaser Inc, where he continues to create work today.  

Glaser has an incredible archive of books, posters and prints and his artwork has been featured in exhibitions all over the world including a solo show at both the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. He is perhaps best known as the creator of the iconic I Heart New York logo, which has become synonymous with the city, and demonstrates Glaser’s intention for his work to be a force for change. As such, it comes as no surprise that in 2004 he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, for his “profound and meaningful long-term contribution to the contemporary practice of design”. 

A designer, illustrator and visionary, here CR talks to Glaser about embracing doubt, the consequences of design and why retirement is an illusion.

I (Heart) NY concept sketch by Milton Glaser, 1976. Part of the Museum of Modern Art, New York collection

On finding his path I don’t know what it means to become interested in design, I’ve always liked to make things, which I suppose is the equivalent of becoming interested in design. I discovered drawing from my cousin, who came to the house to babysit when I was five-years-old and he drew a horse for me. I realised you could create life and at that moment I decided I would spend my life observing and creating life.