Milton Glaser, Designer of Iconic 'I Love NY' Logo, Dies on His 91st Birthday

Georgia Slater

Milton Glaser, the man behind the iconic "I ♥ NY" logo" and a groundbreaking graphic designer, died Friday on his 91st birthday.

The designer died in Manhattan after suffering a stroke and renal failure, his wife Shirley, told The New York Times.

The lifelong New Yorker was born in the Bronx in 1929 and discovered his love for art at a young age. In a 2014 interview with Inc.Glaser described his first experience with design and what drew him to his passion.

The late artist said his older cousin came to babysit him one night and held out a brown paper bag and asked Glaser if he wanted to see a bird — which Glaser thought would be the real animal. When his cousin drew a bird on the side of the bag instead, Glaser was mesmerized.

"Suddenly, I almost fainted with the realization that you could create life with a pencil. And at that moment, I decided that's how I was going to spend my life," Glaser told the outlet. "And as it turns out, that's how I have spent my life."

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Glaser went on to study art at Cooper Union in New York City and opened the graphic design firm Push Pin Studios with a few of his classmates upon graduating. As the years went on, the artist gained recognition for his eccentric designs in logos, advertisements, posters, and book covers.

In 1968, Glaser joined editor Clay Felker to found New York Magazine, where he acted as design director and left a lasting impact.

"Around our office, of course, he will forever be one of the small team of men and women that, in the late sixties, yanked New York out of the newspaper morgue and turned it into a great American magazine,” New York Magazine wrote of Glaser in its obituary.

Neville Elder/Corbis via Getty Images

One of his most notable works was his 1966 psychedelic illustration of Bob Dylan for his Greatest Hits album, which was included as an insert in the album and went on to become a fan favorite. "It took on a life of its own, showing up in films, magazines, whatever," Glaser said of the poster, NBC News cited from a 2001 New York Times interview.

Arguably his most famous work was his iconic "I ♥ NY" logo, which he created as part of a 1977 tourism campaign for New York State, the Times reported.

Glaser came up with the design in the back of a New York taxi, sketching the logo on the back of an envelope with boldfaced black letters and red heart in the center, which he colored in with crayon. The logo quickly became an iconic symbol for the city — being plastered on T-shirts, postcards, mugs, and other memorabilia across the country.

Christina Horsten/picture alliance via Getty Images)

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"I'm flabbergasted by what happened to this little, simple, nothing of an idea," Glaser told the Village Voice in 2011. "It just demonstrates that every once in a while you do something that can have enormous consequences."

Glaser's logo now stands as part of a permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art, along with a version that Glaser created after the Sept. 11 attacks, which reads "I ♥ NY MORE THAN EVER."

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The artist was later awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Barack Obama in 2009, according to the Daily Newsand also gained notoriety for his work on Mad Men.

To this day, Glaser is remembered for the love he shared with his native city, which New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said "will long survive him."

"I ♥ NY was the perfect logo at the time he created it and remains so today," Cuomo wrote on Twitter Saturday. "We lost a brilliant designer and a great New Yorker."