The t-shirt that keeps on ticking.
It started as a design solution for a campaign commissioned by the State of New York in 1976. But, this iconic image created by Milton Glaser, an American treasure in the world of all things design, has been described as ‘the most frequently imitated logo design in human history.’ It found itself once again featured as the theme in the song for this campaign in a recent television commercial featuring Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Rachel Ray. Filmed at various locations, they praise the city and state where they have all made the big time. You see it or some derivative of it almost every day in the Big Apple and now around the world.
One of its most popular current forms is the quintessential tourist gift, the I Heart NY t-shirt. What trip to the Big Apple would be complete without at least one?? On Canal Street nowadays, you can purchase five (count them…five) t-shirts for a mere $10. For those oblivious to the trove of inexpensive treasures to be had in the land of Chinatown, there are midtown goodies to be discovered as well. It is here that you can purchase, oh say, maybe three for $10 in the vicinity of the Empire State Building. Either way you look at it, it’s a real bargain by any New York City standard and a must for the folks back home.
I’ve recently come across a number of entertaining spins on this icon on the streets of the city. One woman wore a washed out t-shirt that read, “Why don’t you go home and heart your own city?” or my own personal favorite was the art street sticker that was
plastered all over the Lower East Side bemoaning, “I can’t afford to heart NY.” (sob!) Heart-wrenching and so true for so many of us as we weather the current tough economic climate. The image shown on the left is how I discovered it.
It took the British street artist, Banksy, to sum it up best when he created the stunning street art depiction of a doctor with a stethoscope checking the pulse of the heart of New York earlier this year. The picture shown here on the lower right. It perfectly illustrated the current sentiment of the city if not the nation as a whole. We take a licking, but we keep
on ticking. Unfortunately, Banksy discovered the hard way that New York City can be a tough place to easily lay one’s artistic hat. His stunning work of street art had a life span of a mere 24 hours before an opposing graffiti street gang unceremoniously vandalized it. They white-walled it and then tagged it in an effort to show him who runs this joint.
Just about everyone has figured a way to interpret this design for his or her own needs. We are so familiar with this icon that we now replace the components of it with other imagery. We use it to promote shoes, cupcakes and even excess. However you slice it, this iconic design like a sound heartbeat, is destined to go on and on and on.
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