John Adkins Richardson comments about designing

the National Ragtime and Jazz Archive logo


I can’t recall for certain whether I did the logo before or after I did the record for The Old Guys’ collection “Hot Ginger and Dynamite.”  The inspiration is the same artist for both works – John Held, Jr. (1889-1958).  He was the artist who, more than any other, expressed the brash spirit of the twenties with his flappers and lounge lizards in coon skin coats and galoshes.  The design of the logo itself is entirely mine but I believe the white saxophonist is a very close “lift” from a drawing by Held.  The trombonist is my idea of how he would have portrayed such a person.  Of course, people of color rarely appeared in illustrations during the Jazz Age except as a white man on some material I did for Jean Kitrell’s St. Louis Rivermen.


I was asked to do this design by (Walter) Deane Wiley, then Dean of the School of Education and a huge enthusiast of traditional jazz music.  I chose a variety of Billboard type for RAGTIME, to suggest the late nineteenth century and a sort of mutated Futura Black for JAZZ because it reminded me of Art Deco designs from the twenties.  I believe this is mechanical hand lettering and not Prestype.  It’s hard to remember after so long.  “National Archive” was surely Prestype though.  As far as I know, the first use of the Ragtime and Jazz archive’s logo [was] as the letterhead on archival stationary, in 1974.


As for the logo, my motto is “Nostalgia never grows old.”


                                                       John Adkins Richardson (May 19, 2003)


Back to Jazz Archive Page
Library and Information Services
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Updated by Kristin Walker
January 2005