September 21, 2021

Reynold Ruffins, Push Pin Studios Graphic Artist, Dies at 90

Reynold Dash Ruffins was born on Aug. 5, 1930, in Queens. His father, John, was an appliance salesman for Consolidated Edison, the energy company; his mother, Juanita (Dash) Ruffins, was a homemaker.

Like Mr. Glaser, a high school buddy, Mr. Ruffins went to the High School of Music Art in Manhattan (now the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music the Arts) and then Cooper Union, the highly selective and, at the time, tuition-free arts college in Lower Manhattan. He graduated in 1951.

One summer, he and his classmates there, Mr. Glaser and Mr. Chwast, formed a graphics business called Design Plus. They had two clients. One wanted to make a gross of cork place mats (Mr. Ruffins designed the tropical scene they silk-screened onto them), and the other was a monologuist who needed a flier. “Then our vacation was over and we went back to school,” Mr. Chwast said.

Next, Mr. Chwast, Mr. Sorel and Mr. Ruffins had the idea to sell themselves with a digest of type and illustration, a four-page booklet designed as a parody of the Farmer’s Almanac. They called it the Push Pin Almanack and sent it to art directors to drum up work. (Mr. Glaser had gone to Europe on a Fulbright grant.) It was filled with bits of ephemera — factoids and poems and old-time remedies for toothache, for example — rendered in a neo-nostalgic style all their own. Mr. Ruffins designed the push pin logo. Copies of the Almanack and its successor, The Push Pin Monthly Graphic, are now collectibles for design enthusiasts.

In 1954, Mr. Chwast, Mr. Glaser and Mr. Sorel formed a proper design firm and named it Push Pin Studios, though they had barely any clients. They invited Mr. Ruffins to join.

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