Sunday, April 6, 2014

Reynold Ruffins: Ruffling Some Feathers

Reynold Ruffins', born in 1930, work is unmistakeable when compared to other artists of the time. His work flows together uniformly and seamlessly to allow for a viewer to pick his work out from the rest. Ruffins was one of the first African Americans to achieve early prominence in graphic design (Meggs).  Ruffins is quotes to have said "The assumption was if you were black, you were delivering something," which is one of the reasons why is success in the Graphic Design field is one to be dearly noted though out the history of this type of art.  (Hinkle).

Ruffins was part of the foundation of a New York graphic-design group in 1954 (Clayton). Along with Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser and Edward Sorel they founded the Push Pin Studio. The 1960's were crucial years for the formation of this group because during this time the founding artists came to realize that they desired to challenge the orthodoxy of the dominant International Typographic Style.

Reynold Ruffins

They wanted to offer a witty and eclectic alternative with a much more prominent and vast consumer appeal (Clayton). This influenced the Push Pin Studio's overall style, which was said to be characterized by brightly colored as well as narrative illustrations, that had exaggerated forms and juxtaposed humorous effects all while keeping a flattened image. The work that this group participated in was often specializing in book jackets, posters, magazine illustrations and record covers.

Reynold Ruffins

Reynold Ruffins.

The new designs and styles presented by the Push Pins studios definitely flared up some conversation during the time that it was prominent. It was unique in the respect that it kept the sincere appreciation for the vintage reference materials that each artist was using (Clayton). Due to the fact that Ruffins' had a large involvement in the foundation of this new studio as well as this new style, it is important to note how large Reynoold Ruffins' impact on this important section of history for several reasons:

1.) Ruffins was one of the first prominent African American artists during this time.

2.) The Push Pin Studio was partly founded by Ruffin therefore his presence in the movement regardless of his ethnicity is significant.

3.) Ruffins was able to break down many of the stereotypes that came with being African American, and even though he was not able to change everyone's views and/or opinions he was able to present a new way of looking at the artist and their participation in society.

Even though Ruffins ended up leaving the studio after a time to become a prominent decorative and children's book designer, he made a huge splash during this time and in the Push Pin Studio, as well as the push pin style by "ruffling a few feathers." Ruffins' is quoted as saying "I've had the good fortune of almost always enjoying my work, some less of course than others. I probably work harder at easel painting than I did as an illustrator because I had the constraints and the need to satisfy the client" (Hinkle). Even though he is best known for his illustrations his true passion was for painting, and painting for himself not a client, and that is how he is continuing to live out his life today. 

Works Cited:

Megg, Philip B. Megg's History of Graphic Design. 5th ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2012. Print.
Hinkle, Annette. Reynold Ruffins: Turning to the Easel. 12 Dec 2013. Web. 6 April 2014.

Clayton, Michael. Push Pin Studios: An Introduction. 20 Nov 2009. Web. 6 April 2014.

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