I Heart NY Designer Still Hearts NY
The “I Love New York” concept was a reaction to this sense of decline (in 1977). Many have claimed credit for the line. If New York was an unlovable wreck, a city on fire, a state in a slump, that only made it the kind of place a certain kind of New Yorker could boast about loving. The state tourism office launched a $4 million ad campaign, commissioning a jingle writer named Steve Karmen, a Bronx-born child of Russian Jewish immigrants, to make the slogan sing. The logo came later.
To Milton Glaser, age 87, the slogan was appealing because it was less a sales pitch than an oath, a statement of belief. It did not try to persuade people to buy or do anything. He spent two weeks drawing a logo with the words “I Love New York” inside two lozenges, and submitted it to the state for approval. Then, in a taxi ride to his studio one day, he had another idea. Using a red crayon on a scrap of paper, he sketched out the four characters in the logo that would be seen around the world.
“It’s a little tricky,” he said. “‘I’ is a word. ♥ is a symbol for emotion. ‘NY’ are initials for a place. So three acts of transformation are going on. You have to use your brain a little to translate it, even though once you do it, it’s obvious, and there’s no one that can’t figure it out. But the activity of the brain doing that is partially responsible for its durability.”
From “Milton Glaser Still Hearts NY” by John Leland for the New York Times; Glaser’s original design was created in 1977; Portrait of Glaser by Nicole Bengiveno
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