MY DESIGN HERO 4: Ruth Ansel
For my senior Capstone Project, I’ve been circling around ideas of “Magazine Designs.” During my research overheard the name “Ruth Ansel” a couple of times. I decided to look her up individually… And to my surprise I found her on the “Grapic Designers you should know” list… So it was no big coincidence really to be hearing her name one too often.
I began to take interest in her work and style. Magazine design has always been an interest of mine. Ansel inspires her colleagues by teaching them that that “magazines were intricate puzzles where all the pieces, when smartly combined and surprisingly composed, could exude typographic and pictorial elegance.” This quote still rings in my head every time I try to imagine how my make-believe magazine would turn out.
The funny thing about Ruth Ansel, was that she never meant to be in the design business, she accidentally wound up as an art director, and gradually became a world renown “design superstar.”
The story goes as Ruth Ansel made a dramatic debut as a designer in 1962, when Harper’s Bazaar art director Marvin Israel loathed a photo for a cover that looked questionably like the great Diana Vreeland. However, Ansel the cover photo thinking it looked like a man in drag. She wanted to take it off it immediately. However, Israel went ballistic, the editor fired him leaving Bea Feitler and Ruth Ansel to become the new co-art directors of Harper’s Bazaar.
Nothing else could describe her designs but unique, and very attention getting and attractive! She turns simplicity into elegance with just photo covers and good typography choices, and colors combined! What I most appreciate about her work is her ability to crowd a page but still not exert the vibe of “over crowdedness.” Its as if she has mastered the science of one’s mind and her designs make our eyes flow down the page just how she wants us to, and allures us to turn the page- Which is what all Magazine cover pages should do! Some may do so by mentioning interesting gossip on the page, but she can do it with the beauty of design. I hope I can apply this to my capstone project!
Ever since Ansel became one of the youngest art directors in the history of magazines! She has pushed the limits of magazine design in a career spanning nearly 50 years! Ansel was said to be responsible for era-defining magazine pages and covers for Harper’s Bazaar, The New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair. During the course of this she has worked with renown designers: Richard Avedon (who pronounced her “genius”), Diane Arbus, Helmut Newton, Guy Bourdin, Lee Friedlander, Hiro, Andy Warhol, Peter Beard, Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz.
Sometimes I like to look at my Graphic Design story like Ansel’s. I may not be a world famous designer, but I landed the graphic design field “accidentally” aswell… Sometimes you don’t know what you want until you try it out- accidentally!