Lost Designer Part I

On September 17, 1985 I received a package from Aaron Burns, President of International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in response to this query: “What designer do you believe is unfairly forgotten by design historians, who you would like to see given his or her due?”

The package include a few printed pieces, including the ones reproduced here, and this note:

Dear Steve

Enclosed is a collection of material to support any article you may wish to prepare for Alexander Ross. Use whatever you wish but I would appreciate your returning everything whenever you are through with it. No  hurry.

Best regards, Aaron

No hurry indeed. I waited too long. Burns died in 1991. And I never took the opportunity to learn more about Alexander Ross, who was written about in Graphis.  A brief uncovering did, however, find this:

He was Born in Scotland, Ross came to America without any visual education to speak of and his first successful commissioned work was  a magazine cover in 1941. His early death at 37 seems to have curtailed interest in this man who made the transition from home spun figurative painting to a multi-layered modernist aesthetic. He did a lot of work for pharmaceutical companies and the Office of War Information.

His work does have that mid-Modernist collage aesthetic, and his typography recalls Alvin Lustig, Lester Beall and Bradbury Thompson. When I mentioned those similarities to Aaron Burns, he sniffed and said, Ross got there first.

(For another “lost” designer, Hajo, go here.)

3 thoughts on “Lost Designer Part I

  1. Tom Lincoln

    Steve,
    He wasn’t exactly overlooked, but I always thought David Stone Martin deserved more credit.  He was active in the fifties, probably more appropriately classified as an illustrator, but very much a designer as well.

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