Bruce Blackburn, Designer of Ubiquitous NASA Logo, Dies at 82
Bruce Blackburn, a graphic designer whose modern and minimalist logo has joined the nation’s consciousness, including four bold red letters for NASA, known as the “worm”, and the 1976 American Revolution bicentennial star’s death Took place on 1 February. Arvada near Denver, Colo. Nursing Home. He was 82.
The death was confirmed by his daughter, Stephanie McFadden.
Mr. Blackburn’s illustrious career in design for more than 40 years included developing imagination for clients such as IBM, Mobil and the Museum of Modern Art. But he is best known for NASA Worm, Which is synonymous with space exploration and future technological concept.
In 1974, his small New York-based design company, Danne & Blackburn, was barely a year old and Eager He and his partner Richard Dannon were approached by the Federal Graphics Improvement Program to rebrand NASA’s classic logo for a major project that featured a patriotic red chevron in the stars. Is known “Meatball, “It was not at all cutting-edge, provoking an age-old sensibility of space travel seen in science-fiction comics like Bock Rogers. After the moon’s landing in 1969, suddenly at the sight of the world agency, NASA wanted to embrace a modern image .
“They were not fully prepared for that kind of attention,” Mr. Blackburn saidblack burn“(2016), a short documentary about him.” His inequality leapt to the level of how he presented himself to the public. “
In 1975, NASA Started The worm, a sleek sequence of curved red letters, and the logo quickly became a tangible symbol of an infinite space age that lay ahead.
“We got what we set out to accomplish,” Mr. Blackburn said. He said, “We immediately showed it to anyone, ‘Oh I know what that is. I know them. They’re really great. They’re right at the front end of everything.'”
But in 1992, a few years after the Challenger explosion, NASA dropped the worm and revived the meatball in a decision that was said to be aimed at improving the company’s morale.
Mr. Blackburn and other designers met the choice. “They said, ‘This is a crime. You can’t do that,'” he said. “It’s a national treasure and you’re throwing it in the trash bin.”
“She was offended by her design sensibility,” said her daughter. “They thought the meatball was clumsy and dull and not representative of the future.”
In addition to designing the worm, Mr. Blackburn served in another large federal commission in the 1970s, symbolizing the bicameral celebration of the American Revolution. His design – a soft star made of red, white and blue stripes that combined a modern aesthetic with patriotic themes – was ubiquitous until 1976 Every thing From stamps to coffee mugs to government buildings.
“They say that there are moments in life that are opportunities of a lifetime.” “And I got two of them.”
Mr. Blackburn also worked on the logo for the US Department of Transportation and the Army Corps of Engineers. In the 1990s, she Final In the International Olympic Committee’s Design Competition for Centennial logo. President Ronald Reagan Recognized His work with a Presidential Design Award in 1984. He served as president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts in the mid-1980s.
In the documentary, he described his style as “programmatic” – design that “promotes imagination in the public eye that is permanent.” He said, “The art in design is in solving the problem and then giving it a visual life.”
Bruce Nelson Blackburn was born on June 2, 1938 in Dallas and on the Ohio River in Evansville, Ind. His father, Bofford Blackburn, was an electrical engineer. His mother, Ruby (Caraway) Blackburn, was a housewife and realtor. As a boy, Bruce spent hours painting and drawing time in his bedroom, and in his teens, he formed the Dixieland Band and won state music competitions playing the French horn.
He graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1961 with a BS in Design. In the Navy, he served as a communications officer.
By the late 1960s, Mr. Blackburn had moved to New York to work for a design firm Charmeyf and Geismer, And later left Danne and Blackburn. She married Tina Harsham in 1979. Mr. Blackburn parted with Mr. Danne in the 1980s and started his own firm, Blackburn & Associates, on Park Avenue.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Blackburn is survived by his wife; Two sons, David Blackburn and Nick Sontague; One sister, Sandra Beeson; And eight grandchildren.
He moved to Santa Fe, NM with his wife a decade ago and in 2017 they settled in Lakewood, Colo. A personal project that became important to him was designing logos for two Episcopal churches, of which he was a long-time resident. Emmanuel Episcopal Church In Weston, Conn., And St. Bede Episcopal Church In Santa Fe.
Last year, Mr. Blackburn was surprised when NASA Revived Worm people Visible Towards the SpaceX rocket that launched into the orbit of that waterfall. The worm’s fate always remained a tender subject for him.
“I think he was happy to know,” his daughter said, “that his design was finally back in space.”