The famed Push Pin Studios began in 1954 without a studio. Three recent Cooper Union graduates—Seymour Chwast, Reynolds Ruffin, and Ed Sorel—banded together to create a promotional mailer to send to industry art directors. In pursuit of both design and illustration work, they devised The Push Pin Almanac. The plan worked, and soon the physical studio was born in a cold-water flat on East 17th Street. Fellow classmate Milton Glaser joined the following year, upon return from a Fulbright scholarship in Italy.
Over time, the almanac morphed into the bimonthly Push Pin Graphic, which soon became collector’s items for art directors, designers, illustrators, etc., and added to the influential studio’s visibility. Contributors included a star roster of Push Pin artists over the years, including Chwast, Glaser, Paul Davis, James McMullan, Tim Lewis, Vincent Ceci, and John Alcorn.
In 1974, the year the partnership between Chwast and Glaser ended, the former designed a calendar (above) as a broadside. Deconstructing the traditional, he laid the days and months out in a linear fashion, with the entire year in a single view. Practically nonfunctional, the overall effect is to give one pause as they greet the coming year. It’s as powerful today as it was in 1974. Offsetting the gravitas, however, is Chwast’s playful use of icons, color, and typography. He drew his inspiration from a bingo card and bold “high school” script for the masthead.
I asked Chwast for thoughts on his 40-year-old design.
When you created this calendar in 1974, was the Push Pin Graphic being produced bi-monthly?
More or less.
Safe to assume you had done other calendars for the Graphic over the years?
Was this the first calendar that was a poster?
What was your thinking in laying out the entire year in a linear fashion?
The year itself is linear. Time allows us to have days in an orderly fashion.
Was your intention to change the way we look at the days of the year?
Did it change yours?
Can you comment on the design of the calendar? What was your inspiration? Were you referencing a specific style of design?
My inspiration was bingo cards. I love the type style.
Any reflections about the calendar or the time?
I think my calendar is very functional: 12 months, 12 rows.