An Exceptional Mad Man

An Exceptional Mad Man

In 2008, when Chris Jones 52 IA first contacted RISD to see if the school had any interest in the working archive of her late husband Richard W. (Dick) Jones 51 AD (the AD stands for Advertising Design, a program that has since morphed into other majors), Director of Library Services Carol Terry saw an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

“I visited their home in Pennsylvania and was immediately impressed with what I saw,” she says. “Not only does the collection of materials sum up the life’s work of a very talented alumnus, it captures a seminal period in American advertising – a time now popularized on the television series Mad Men.”

Terry knew that Jones was far from the only RISD graduate who found success in the world of advertising, but was struck with how “remarkably well-represented, well-preserved and well-organized” the materials from half a century ago were. “Dick’s numerous awards from the field showed that his work was also very well regarded,” Terry adds, making it an ideal acquisition for the RISD library’s new Archive of Graphic Design and Illustration.

Dick Jones: One of RISD’s Mad Men, an exhibition featuring graphic design and advertising highlights spanning his 55-year career, opened at the Fleet Library at RISD on September 4 and will be on view through December 15. Having spent most of his career as a Madison Avenue art director, Jones worked in pharmaceutical advertising during the golden years (1955-75) and also did design work for CBS Radio and Xerox, among countless other firms and nonprofits. The exhibition features everything from classic ads for Bergdorf Goodman to time-capsule-like proclamations about prescription drugs like Ritalin to nostalgic promos for I Love Lucy, and also includes work in progress, awards, ephemera and books that inspired him.

Douglass Scott, a long-time adjunct faculty member in Graphic Design, curated and installed the show, with help from graduate student Brian James MFA 14 GD. "Doug's organization of the story complemented the remarkable work that Chris had already begun to preserve and organize the material before its transfer to us late last year," Terry says. "Overall, the show offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a successful advertising art director during an exciting and groundbreaking time in American commerce"

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