Milton Glaser, type designer

Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,597
edited June 2020 in History of Typography
What is the best source (online or in book) for a list of his type designs? And an analysis of his modus operandi as a type designer?
I am aware of Baby Fat, Baby Teeth, Baby Curls and Neo Futura (Glaser Stencil), all shown in the 1973 Monograph Milton Glaser Graphic Design.
In it, he comments, “I was surprised that the type reads as well as it does, in spite of the visual interruption of the letterforms”. (About the stencil design Neo Futura). He was certainly one to push the boundaries of character-recognition, at least at that point in his career.
Notably, in the monograph, George Leavitt is credited for “lettering execution”.

Poster image from Typeface: Babyfat.


  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,226
    edited June 2020
    The Photo-Lettering One-Line Manual of Styles (1971) lists, under "GLASER (Milt)":

    Baby Fat (2 wids + 4 var)
    BabyTeeth (8 var)
    Filmsense (2 var)
    Futura Stencil (3 wts)
    Houdini (6 var)

    Under "GLASER-LEVITT":

    Glaser-Levitt Eightway Shaded (16 var) [Only 8 are shown in the book]

    I've never heard of any others.
  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 193
    edited June 2020
    The typeface pages on Fonts In Use have additional info on dates and versions (phototype, dry transfer, digital). It’s far from complete, and I’m currently in the process of adding and updating a few missing bits. If you have any insights, please let me know.
    Note that the type designer profile page also lists digital revivals of Glaser’s typefaces by others, as we typically credit the original designer for those, too.
    You’ll also find links to a post by Zachary Sachs on Container List, the blog of the School of Visual Arts Archives and Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives, which has a number of images of photostats. The page is gone, but luckily still available at the Internet Archive. In addition to George Leavitt’s involvement, Norman Hathaway mentions that Michael Doret had a hand in the drawing of Glaser Stencil and Baby Fat.
    In addition to the faces released through Photo-Lettering and listed by Mark, there are a few private and custom designs, like Einstein, Sesame Place (seems to be a revision of Houdini) and Big Kitchen.
  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 813
    edited June 2020
    When Rob Saunders and I visited Milton in 2017 he showed us a few original boards from some of his alphabets. They were initially intended to be used via stat cam, not made into fonts. He didn’t seem to have much info beyond that when I asked at the time. I hope those boards are going to an archive where someone can do more research into their origins and the people involved.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,597
    Strictly speaking, the artwork boards for “stat cam” typography is type.

  • Stephen ColesStephen Coles Posts: 813
    edited June 2020
    @Nick Shinn Maybe. That's an interesting debate for another place. I think I meant to say “fonts”. Now edited.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,281
    My guess would be that Glaser only worked on art boards or paper and that typefaces were constructed from his drawings by others with the technology of the time.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,281
    @Nick Shinn  Stat cam typography occupied half of my life ;-)

  • Correction: “A brief tour of Milton Glaser’s typography”, first published on October 28, 2010 on Container List, is still online. It was just moved to a different URL. The post with several images of photostats can be found at the Milton Glaser Design Study Center and Archives, hosted by the School of Visual Arts, and is now dated October 28, 2013.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,281
    Thanks, Florian!

  • Looking at specimens in the post, I am struck by how good they are and, even more telling, how I can remember having seen each one, in some cases not for decades. Milton’s type designs have the quality to which all type designers aspire: they look necessary. They are type, since the letters are intended to be repeated—how’s that for a simple definition!

    Let’s hear it for stat cam typography! For a period of about seven or eight years, just before the advent of desktop scanners, I owned a really good Konica photocopier that enlarged and reduced very accurately and could accept paper heavy enough to take hot wax without discoloration. Using old type specimens and many of my late friend Dan Solo’s books, I could comp all kinds of fonts with surprising accuracy. The copier was my way around all of the expensive paper and darkroom supplies. Because copiers went out of adjustment quickly, I paid a Konica repair man “under the table” to give me a lesson on how to do the fine-tuning myself. But as soon as I had a scanner, I no longer needed it, so it languished in a corner until I donated it to a school. Talk about transient technology . . .

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