Karl Fink graphic design papers
Available digital items: https://digital.archives.newschool.edu/index.php/Detail/collections/KA014401
This collection documents the industrial design practice of Parsons School of Design alumnus Karl Fink (1914-1986) from the 1930s through the 1980s. Publications concerning graphic design, print advertising, packaging and displays, color, and typography comprise the bulk of the files. Fink's original designs are represented in packaging for Topps chewing gum, a magazine cover for Modern Packaging, and Volkswagen letterhead.
- 1927 - 1983
- Majority of material found within 1935 - 1967
0.8 Cubic Feet (2 boxes, 4 folders)
Language of Materials
Scope and Contents
The Karl Fink graphic design papers predominantly consist of printed items in the form of trade publications and promotional materials, including a selection of mid-twentieth century type specimens. A small amount of original artwork and lettering documents Fink's designs for a magazine cover, stationery, packaging, and counter-top displays dating from the 1930s onwards. While Fink was active into the 1980s, the bulk of the collection dates from the first three decades of his career. His work for the U.S. Army is not present in this collection.
Of note are files from Fink's time working for color consultant Arthur S. Allen. File contents consist of original artwork and lettering for chewing gum packaging, including sample counter-top displays, and stationery. It includes an original Bazooka Joe logo with a military theme, and Tarzan-themed packaging. This material arrived in the Archives housed in a large envelope labeled, "TOPPS chewing gum original art from late 1930s, early 1940s by Karl Fink (drawing of children by Roy Doty)." There is a black and white drawing of children included with the materials, which is by Doty, in addition to an unsigned ink drawing of elves preparing some sort of confection, possibly chewing gum. The Arthur S. Allen files also include "before and after" examples of packaging and re-branding campaigns for Allstate Tires, Lifebuoy Soap, Schulze Bread, and Kingan Hams.
Three folders of type specimens compiled by Fink provide evidence of the typographic output of the following firms: American Type Foundry, Bauer Alphabets, Berthold Type Foundry, Boro Typographers, The Composing Room, Continental Typefounders Assoc., European Type Foundry, Intertype Corp., and Lanston Monotype Co.
Two issues of the trade magazine American Artist published in the midst of World War Two offer numerous examples of military-related propaganda, both in editorial features and advertising. They also demonstrate the important role graphic designers and artists played in the war effort. One issue features Chinese American artist Dong Kingman on the cover.
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New York-based industrial designer Karl Fink (1914-1986) specialized in package design, serving as a leader in several professional organizations, including presidencies of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and the Package Designers Council, of which he was a founding member. He was also director of the Inter-Society Color Council. His career spanned the mid-1930s into the 1980s.
Fink graduated from Parsons School of Design (then known as the New York School of Fine and Applied Art) on May 24, 1935 with a certificate in Graphic Advertising and Illustration and began working as the chief designer for color consultant Arthur S. Allen that year (Allen died in April 1944). From 1945 to 1946, Fink served as art director in the Paris office of the United States Army's Information and Education Division. Beginning in 1946, he was employed as art director for Rahr Color Clinic until 1951, when he founded his own firm, Karl Fink and Associates, specializing in graphic and industrial design. Clients included domestic and international corporations, including pharmaceutical, publishing, cosmetics, and manufacturing firms.
According to his family, Karl Fink's first client as an independent designer was Topps Chewing Gum, producer of Bazooka bubble gum. The character, Bazooka Joe, whose exploits were included as cartoons packaged with chewing gum, was originally based on a family member who had served in the military. Fink later designed the original Topps baseball cards, which were ardently collected by generations of Americans.
In addition to elected positions in professional organizations, Fink served in advisory roles for the National Endowment for the Arts, the U.S. Department of State, and New York City's High School of Art & Design, whose graduates include Parsons School of Design alumni Steven Meisel and Marc Jacobs. He wrote and lectured extensively on design topics throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Karl Fink was an early advocate for the development of professional ethics in the design industry, particularly regarding the independence of designers from clients.
"Arthur S. Allen: Expert on Application of Color to Commercial Packages." New York Times. April 11, 1944. Proquest.
Conversation with Arthur Fink, March 9, 2020.
Glass Packer-Processor, January 1967
Karl Fink correspondence. Parsons School of Design Alumni Association records. New School Archives.
Karl Fink Curriculum Vitae, undated. In accession file. New School Archives.
Letter from Sona Holman Fink to Wendy Scheir, November 27, 2018. In accession file. New School Archives.
Organization and Arrangement
Arranged alphabetically by folder title.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Donated to The New School Archives by Soni Holman Fink, Karl Fink's wife, 2018.
All folder titles assigned by processing archivist. The collection was donated to The New School Archives without folders. Original notations indicated in Scope and Content note.
- Advertising layout and typography (Subject) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Display of merchandise (Subject) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Graphic design (Typography) (Subject) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Graphic design. (Subject) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Graphic designers (Occupation) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Industrial design -- Study and teaching -- New York (State) -- New York (Subject) (Places) Subject Source: Local sources
- Packaging -- Design (Subject) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Topps Chewing Gum, Inc
- Type specimens (Type of Material) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Guide to the Karl Fink graphic design papers
- New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
- March 9, 2020
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description