When the pioneering graphic designer Milton Glaser (1929-2020) passed away last week, he left behind an unfinished project: a graphic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Writing in the New York Times, Jeremy Elias of The Atlantic has revealed that Glaser was preoccupied with creating a message that might be distributed amongst public school students across New York, and ultimately the country.
“This sense of inertia, of not being able to determine your own future, it’s very eroding. All we can do is have this sense that we are not alone,” Glaser told Elias in an interview conducted in May. “‘We’re all in this together’ has been reiterated a thousand times, but you can create the symbolic equivalent of that phrase by just using the word ‘together,’ and then making those letters [look] as though they are all different, but all related. So if you want to use the word ‘together’ it evokes the entire phrase and the idea that we have something in common.”
Glaser said that the project made no overt reference to New York, like his famous “I ♥ NY”, such that it might be universal. “I want this identity to be adapted by others who are not New Yorkers. This is of course a world problem, not a New York problem,” he said.
In the interview, Glaser expressed uncertainty over whether “Together” would have an impact, but nevertheless stated his commitment to working further on the idea. “I’m surprised by how these pieces of art can affect people, and can affect their mood or attitude,” he said. “Design starts with a desire to change an existing condition, but as I said, the shift is something you hope for, and most of the time don’t get it.”