These New Yorkers don't (heart) the 'We (Heart) NYC' logo

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These New Yorkers don't (heart) the 'We (Heart) NYC' logo
Promoters said a new NYC logo campaign, which draws on a successful tourism slogan from the 1970s, was aimed at cutting through pandemic-era negativity. So far, it’s getting rough reviews. -- 7.3 x 6.1 -- cat=a

by Dodai Stewart

NEW YORK, NY.- “It’s bad!” one person wrote.

“If there’s going to be a riot in NYC, it’ll be over this,” wrote another.

Someone else posted, “This is literally the worst design I’ve ever, ever seen.”

Just a few hours after the new “We (heart) NYC” logo was revealed Monday, reaction on Twitter — and beyond — was not merely negative, but brutal.

The design is part of a campaign aiming to “cut through divisiveness and negativity” that accompanied the pandemic, according to Kathryn Wylde, the president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City.

The logo draws on the “I (heart) NY” logo, designed by Milton Glaser for a 1977 campaign to promote tourism in New York state. At the time, the state was in the midst of an economic crisis, with high levels of unemployment. Commercials and print advertising in the “I (heart) NY” campaign highlighted nature and culture in New York state, from Niagara Falls to Broadway, and encouraged tourism and vacation business.

This new campaign is directed specifically at New York City — hence the C — and Graham Clifford, the designer and art director who oversaw the new logo, said the idea was to “give it more of a modern twist.”

Clifford used a font adapted from the one on subway signs, he told New York Times reporter James Barron. “The subway system is the veins or the beating heart of the city,” he said, adding that “you can have Wall Street types sitting next to construction workers. It’s a place where you can bring everybody together, and we’re cognizant of that.”

An admirable intent, to be sure. Yet the actual design made some people irate.

Rafi Schwartz, a writer and co-owner of Discourse Blog, was succinct, yet philosophical, posting, “This sucks on every conceivable level and also on some levels that exist beyond human perception.”

Was it the sans-serif font? Was it the fact that the stacked characters don’t quite line up? Was it the shading of the heart for an illusion of three dimensions? Was it that the heart is floating both to the right and above the text? Was it … everything?

The Kid Mero, a comedian, cultural commentator and TV and podcast personality who was born in Washington Heights and raised in the Bronx, found the geometry upsetting.

When he was a “graffiti kid,” as he put it, he would often add a superfluous ‘E’ to the end of Mero just for symmetry, so “the imbalance of it” was messing him up, he said, using some unprintable language. “I ain’t go to Pratt, I don’t know the terminology, but it looks and feels wild lopsided?”

Tag Hartman-Simkins, a Brooklyn resident and the director of design at, wrote on Twitter that the design had been “feedbacked into the ground.”

Reached by email, Hartman-Simkins added, “I can’t imagine any person with a background in graphic design made that thing without a committee of bland politicians sanding away its edges until they felt safe enough to unveil that to the public.”

Not everyone hates the new design. Writer Michael Musto, a native New Yorker with a sharp eye, gave the logo a “Thumbs up.”

“Even at its worst, NYC is better than anywhere else,” he said. “I’m a true blue New Yorker who’s been here my whole life and will never leave, so I’m all for any group affirmations, and I like the idea of using the subway font. And you can’t get more inclusive than that ‘We.’”

A few people were less concerned about the design and more interested in what the city was making a priority.

In response to a post on Twitter about the new logo, Ah-Niyah Gold, a born and bred New Yorker who owns a public relations agency, wrote, “Can we worry about the rent issue?!!” in a nod to New York City’s current housing crisis.

Then there were people who decided to take matters into their own hands.

Mary Wagner, a copywriter, art director and social media strategist who lives in Brooklyn, came up with a “very quick” reimagining of the logo, replacing “We” with “RATS.”

Reached by direct message on Twitter, she said that the clothing lines New York or Nowhere and OnlyNY “come to mind as examples of brands that are making visuals that identify NYC and its personality in a way that doesn’t totally embarrass the people that live here.”

Ryan McGinness, a fine artist whose work is influenced by logos, typography and pictograms, also took it upon himself to re-create the logo — taking direct inspiration from Milton Glaser, who died in 2020.

“Rather than hate on someone else’s work (and I think there is plenty to hate about that new ‘We Love NYC’ logo), let me take on the challenge myself to create what I think is a better solution,” he wrote in a message. “It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it. Instead, let’s build upon it.”

McGinness offered his version of the logo to New York City for free, with a cheeky “Seinfeld” reference: “You can have it, NYC. I don’t even want anything for it. OK, maybe dinner at Mendy’s. But a soup and sandwich does not count as a meal!”

Visual artist Marilyn Minter, who has lived in New York City since 1976, declined to linger on the aesthetics of the new logo in an email and redirected her energy to the city itself. “I’m generally all in favor of anything that brings New Yorkers together,” she wrote. “I think this is a special place.”

And truly, the logo did inspire camaraderie and unity in hundreds of people on Twitter, who mostly hated it. Still, Minter was diplomatic: “This is a great city trying to be even better. I (heart) Nyc.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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