Milton Glaser at the Voice – Short Time, Big Impact

The design virtuoso, who died last week at age 91, brought the Voice's editorial look up to speed


First appearing on the masthead as Vice-Chairman in the October 10, 1974, issue of the Voice, graphic designer Milton Glaser was determined to bring to newsprint some of the same graphic verve he and the Voice’s new chairman, Clay Felker, had brought to the glossy New York magazine the previous decade. While the Voice already had the street-wise photographer Fred W. McDarrah and multi-media cartoonist Jules Feiffer enlivening its pages, the editorial look of the paper was hamstrung by the limited color capacity of that era’s newspaper presses, which left the columns of dense type too often outshone by the ads — especially the full-page extravaganzas for music that was already on its way to becoming “classic rock.”

In fact, a 1967 psychedelic poster of Bob Dylan is one of Glaser’s most famous works.

In late 1974, when Glaser cast his eye over the Voice, one of the first things he probably noticed was its highly informative, if staid, front and back pages, such as this “what’s on” back-page bulletin board from October 3, 1974, and the front page that appeared the following week. (All of the images in this article are raw scans taken from the Voice’s ongoing digital archive project.)

Within a few months, Glaser had jettisoned his formal title in favor of the more descriptive “Design Director,” and the covers and back pages were the proof in the pudding.

In one notable case, Glaser not only did the design but also the cover illustration, depicting a famously devilish “man of wealth and taste.”

Whether politicians, film stars, rock gods, or literary luminaries, Glaser made sure the Voice did “show” every bit as much as “tell.”

But all good things come to an end — as with so many sad tales, this one had something to do with Rupert Murdoch, a story we’ll get to another time — and Glaser’s last appearance on the Voice masthead was in January 1977. He exited with a bang, turning readers into viewers with some Hollywood squares on his penultimate back-page layout and a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of a Village goddess on the cover of the January 17, 1977, issue. Not bad for a trip that lasted less than three years.

Milton Glaser: June 26, 1929 – June 26, 2020.