It was 1977 and New York State needed a new ad campaign. Crime was rampant and the city's coffers were empty. Businesses (and their employees) were leaving the city in droves, and tourism was suffering. The State turned to Madison Avenue, who, in turn looked to young graphic designer Milton Glaser.
Expecting it only to 'be a three-month campaign', Glaser donated his back of a taxi doodle for free; 'it was like one of those things you bang out because it didn't seem to merit any more attention'.
Skip forward nearly 25 years, and the I (Heart) NY design remains one of the most recognizable pieces of design in the world. Still cited on licensed and unlicensed merchandise across the city and internationally, it's has taken on a life of its own.
In this Radio 4 programme the art critic Alastair Sooke heads to New York to meet Milton Glaser, who is the personification of American graphic design. As Alastair discovers Glaser has designed everything from a 1967 Bob Dylan Greatest Hits Album cover, to the DC Bullet adorning every DC comic for nearly 25 years, yet he still finds himself remembered for the aching simplicity of the I (Heart) NY design.
Speaking to some of Glaser's contemporary graphic designers and critics, I Heart Milton Glaser explores a form of art that surrounds us every day and traces our society's relationship with a design that became one of the most iconic images we know.
Producer: Jo Meek
An All Out Production for BBC Radio 4.