The Straight and Narrow

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Raymond Lufkin (1899–1978) was one of the highly skilled graphic artists employed by advertising agencies and book publishers in the mid-1930s to add luster to their illuminations. He published Drawings for Books, Magazines, and Advertisements around 1940 to promote his illustration work while living in New York’s Lower East Side. He was a master of the scratchboard and expert with crisp linear drawing, and according to Dr. Robert L. Leslie editor of PM magazine (from which these images came, in PM No.34), Lufkin “has done advertising illustration, packaging, jacketeering and book illustration.” He was the author and illustrator of a life of George Washington, and illustrated the book 40 Wall Street produced by Print magazine’s first publisher/editor William E. Rudge.

Dr. Leslie noted that “scratchboard is ideally suited for illustrations to tie up with type. Depth of color can be controlled from very dark to very light depending on type used.” For my money, these are striking whether with type or not.

Many of these building renderings are of New York’s monumental structures that still exist and brilliantly capture their majesty and grandiosity. (In fact, I walk through the New York Life Insurance portals—below—almost every day,) The last two are book illustrations. And one is a gritty depiction of New York life under the elevated trains that used to criss-cross Manhattan Island.

Park Avenue and 24th Street.

40 Wall Street.

40 Wall Street.

40 Wall Street.

Bankers Trust Building.

Life Insurance Company of Virginia.

Under the El Train.

Jimmy Goes to War.

Oodleuk the Wanderer.


The deadline for the Regional Design Awards has been extended, but only until April 30.

Your judges: Sagi Haviv, Rebeca Méndez, Nancy Skolos, Alexander Isley, Chad Michael, Gail Anderson and Justin Peters.

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