Milton Glaser, Birds, 1965. © Milton Glaser - Permission Estate of Milton Glaser

The bird that proclaimed ‘peace’ for a designer who spread love

It isn’t just the carrier pigeon that carries messages for mankind. Our new book Bird is filled with avian symbolism

It isn’t just the carrier pigeon that carries messages for mankind. Our new book Bird: Exploring the Winged World is filled with avian symbolism. The book features bird-themed visual imagery and artworks created by painters, sculptors, photographers and illustrators, as well as botanists, advertising creatives, cartoonists, and other image makers.

In this book, birds chirrup the triumph of social media; they demonstrate the principle of evolution; serve as stand-ins for gods and nations; encourage the consumption of beer and cigarettes; and herald death.

Some of the earliest depictions of birds appear on cave walls during the Palaeolithic era, and they continue to crop up, on our tablets and phones, in today’s digital age. This particular bird (top) is only a few decades old, but its pop styling and peaceful overtones certainly bring to mind the sentiments of mid-century America. That should not surprise us; after all, it was created by the masterful US graphic designer, Milton Glaser.


Bird: Exploring the Winged World
Bird: Exploring the Winged World


“Glaser created it in 1965 and it is typical of the graphic Modernism of illustrations and advertising images at the time” explains our book. “Birds are a recurrent motif in Glaser’s work – he began working with the Temple University Music Festival in 1968 and would later produce a similar ‘peace bird’ design as a silhouette filled with exotic flowers.

“The simple dove silhouette became a popular motif during the middle decades of the twentieth century, reflecting its long history as a symbol of peace in both Christian tradition and ancient Japan,” the text goes on. “In 1949 a dove designed by Pablo Picasso was chosen as the emblem for the World Peace Congress.

Glaser co-founded Pushpin Studios in 1954 before setting up in 1974 under his own name, defining the era through work such as a poster of a silhouetted Bob Dylan with a mane of psychedelic hair. His best-known work is probably the 1977 I (heart) NY logo, which was commissioned to help reboot the tarnished image of the city and went on to become an iconic symbol.” 

To see where Glaser’s bird takes its position among  a beautiful flock, get a copy of Bird: Exploring the Winged World here.