Reynold Ruffins, an acclaimed illustrator and artist, died at home in Sag Harbor on July 11. His family was with him. He was 90.
He attended the High School of Music and Art in New York before enrolling at Cooper Union, where he joined with three other students who, together, would make graphic design and illustration history.
While still in college, Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser, Edward Sorel, and Mr. Ruffins formed Design Plus. Their partnership evolved after graduation, and in 1954 they founded Push Pin Studios, which had a profound influence on illustration and graphics.
Mr. Ruffins left the firm in 1960 to work as a freelance artist, and three years later co-founded the design studio Ruffins/Taback with Simms Taback. The two shared an office for 28 years.
As a graphic designer, his clients included IBM, AT&T, Coca-Cola, CBS, The New York Times, Random House, Time Life, Gourmet magazine, and the U.S. Postal Service. His design work won awards from the New York Art Directors Club and the Society of
He co-illustrated his first children's book, "The Amazing Maze," with Mr. Taback in 1969, and went on to illustrate nearly 20 more, the most recent of which, "A Friend for King Amadou," was published in 2006. He won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator
Honor Award in 1997 for "Running the Road to ABC."
Mr. Ruffins was the illustrator on "Koi and the Kola Nuts," a highly praised video for children based on an African folktale, with narration by Whoopi Goldberg and music by Herbie Hancock.
Among his other awards are the Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for outstanding achievement in the arts from Cooper Union, and the Cooper Union Presidential Citation for his work and prominence in his profession.
His illustrations covered many themes, his family said, among them "lively street scenes, fanciful travel locales, heartwarming hearth and home, vivid black-and-white food renderings, and whimsical animals and creatures." His bold use of color, abstract
form, and uninhibited composition are distinctive....
Born in 1930 in New York City, Ruffins grew up in the borough of Queens, and from an early age he knew that drawing would be his first love. His father, a salesman who broke the color barrier at New York utility company Con Edison by being the first
African American employed there, encouraged Ruffins' efforts by keeping his son supplied with paper and pencils. Art supplies also appeared on birthdays and at Christmas. "I was often challenged in school by kids who wanted to see if I could draw
Superman or Captain Marvel," Ruffins once said. "I didn't particularly like to do it; I hated the idea of copying, preferring instead to draw from my imagination. But there was the class bully who constantly challenged me, so I did it."