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July 25 2020
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Portrait of Milton Glaser, by James McMullan.

When, in 1964, Milton Glaser and Seymour Chwast invited me, an “emerging” talent, to become the third artist in that decade to join the already renowned Push Pin Studios, some people in the field were no doubt baffled. I probably have Lawrence Durrell to thank for my becoming a name alongside theirs. The three of us independently had been doing covers for Dutton’s Everyman paperbacks, and mine, for the four books of The Alexandria Quartet and the box that contained them, had attracted notice, perhaps convincing Milton that their success wasn’t a one-shot.

Actually, we were all part of a revolution in paperback-cover design in those years, creating work that was more graphic and wittier than the romantic, fully rendered art that had been the style in preceding decades. The signal that the design torch had really been passed was a series of very linear covers Milton did for the Signet Shakespeare plays. His treatment of such a classic subject in an entirely new way drew unusual attention in the field and, I’m convinced, changed the taste of editors and art directors. Because of the triumph of the Shakespeare series, Milton took a few more steps along the pathway to the Mount Olympus of graphic design, where he eventually took his seat at the top.

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