Font of Knowledge: A Q&A With Milton Glaser


Glaser Stencil fonts

Milton Glaser is one of America’s most celebrated graphic designers. His iconic 1977 “I Love NY” logo defined urban symbolism, just one piece of a design legacy that includes his classic Bob Dylan poster, New York magazine’s logo, the DC bullet logo used by DC Comics from 1977 to 2005, and the Brooklyn Brewery logo.

Milton Glaser Stencil

Glaser StencilThe Glaser Stencil font debuted in 1967 on a poster for Carnegie Hall and became a classic of American design. The all-caps typeface is described by as “a perfect summation of both Modernist proportion and New York-style solidity and self-assurance.”

While the original Glaser Stencil font was digitized a while ago, four additional fonts in that family were not. However, working with British designer Rick Banks, founder of Face37 design house, the complete family of Glaser Stencil is being made available through HypeForType.

“It’s amazing to see a typeface that I designed back in the 1960s so carefully revived with attention to detail from Face37 and HypeForType,” says the designer on his website. “It’s like seeing a child reborn.”

Glaser Stencil

Glaser Stencil

Milton Glaser Stencil

Glaser has had one-man-shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris and was selected for the lifetime achievement award of the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum (2004) and the Fulbright Association (2011), and in 2009 was the first graphic designer to receive the National Medal of the Arts award.

He remains on the forefront of typeface design, and recently shared his opinion about Hillary Clinton’s new campaign logo by Pentagram’s Michael Bierut, telling the AIGA: “We have an ‘H’ for Hillary and an arrow for movement. Whether it also contains the twin towers or the suggestion that the arrow faces right seems irrelevant. The mark doesn’t seem to be a breakthrough in the history of trademark design, but it’s professional and competent compared to the previously revealed identities of Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.”

Glaser Stencil font

We spoke with Glaser about the evolution of his fonts in the digital age.

brandchannel: What were the origins of Glaser Stencil?

Glaser: I’ve always liked a variety of modernist san serif faces but could never find a stencil version that seemed interesting. During the old days at Push Pin, whenever we had time between jobs, we would design a typeface.

Glaser Stencil font

bc: Glaser Stencil was designed in the analog cut-and-paste era—how did the transition to digital go?

Glaser: The exact history of Stencil by acquisition was owned by Photo Lettering and now owned by URW. I am quite ignorant about the digital world and work from the now old-fashioned idea that the concept has to be compelling and clearly expressed. We have not, however, changed the original design.

bc: There is a revival of Glaser font these days as the typeface keeps inspiring—including the Holland Festival identity by Thonik.  How do you feel about these modern interpretations?

Glaser: Like everyone, I feel pleased when any work of mine enters into the popular vocabulary. At the same time, I dread seeing it misunderstood or badly applied.

Holland Festival logo

bc: Why did you select American Typewriter as the font for the “I Love NY” logo?

Glaser: I thought of it more as a love letter than as a logo type. And the reference to typewriter seemed more intimate and personal. It also contrasted with the voluptuousness of the heart.

Glaser I Love New York logo

Milton Glaser I Heart New York stencil logo