Another Side of Bob Dylan, Milton Glaser, and That Famous Poster

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There is history and then, often, there is the real story. In response to my recent post on John Berg, who commissioned Milton Glaser’s Bob Dylan poster, I received this from Gerald Gross, who worked closely in book publishing with Lester Beall, Paul Rand, Alvin Lustig, and many other designers in the fifties and sixties.

What a difference color makes.

“I write now to correct an error. . . . It is the reference to your October 5th article on John Berg. I was the VP Director of the Trade Division of the old Macmillan Company from about 1961 to 1975. Before then I had been at Harcourt, Brace for about 14 years, where I wore many hats, one being art director. Milton Glaser was one of the young designers who came there to show me his work. Recently returned from his Fulbright in Italy, Milton’s portfolio contained many handsome and elegant designs for Italian wine labels. We became friends. It was pre–Push Pin. ”“Years later, at Macmillan, one of our editors, Alan Rinzler, had acquired a short manuscript by Bob Dylan. I called on Milton to do the design for the book jacket. He brought in his rendering, and we all thought it quite beautiful. It was THE GREAT DYLAN PROFILE, precisely, but, since we could not afford to print the jacket those days in full color, Milton had rendered those same locks of hair in alternate blue and tan. The delighted editor then showed the jacket to the author. Dylan firmly rejected it, requesting that we simply use type for the jacket design. I paid Milton for his work, and that was that. Years later, I was thrilled to discover the identical design, in all its glorious color, as the subject of that famous poster. That’s the end of my yarn.”

I asked Milton if he recalled this encounter. “Alas, my faulty memory has obliterated the first Dylan episode at Macmillan from my mind,” he told me, “but Dylan equally disliked the drawing when Columbia used it the second time around.”