Born on Long Island, NY of Russian parents, Raphael Boguslav (1929-2010) grew up in New York City. From an early age he showed a talent for and love of drawing. Over the course of his life he would be involved in many art forms, but it was drawing, line and color that captured his heart and hand throughout. He attended the Art Students League from the age of nine, the NYC High School of Music & Art, and later graduated from Cooper Union. His eventually-famous classmate, Milton Glaser, got him his first job in design, where he later joined the small studio as art director, an apprenticeship he credits as a profound influence on both his art and his life. For nearly a decade, he worked for Lippincott & Margulies designing logos and packages for companies like New York Life, PPG & Chrysler. His corporate design portfolio includes some of the most iconic brand images known, including, for example, the McDonald’s “golden arches” logo, the Nike “swoosh” and the IRS logo, among others that are now part of the fabric of our daily visual tapestry. At the same time, he was an occasional folk singer, made two solo albums, and accompanied Harry Belafonte.
He moved out on his own to start a studio with his then wife and partner, but his interest turned to painting. With the encouragement of his friend, John Benson, he moved to Newport, RI and eventually resumed his career in lettering, calligraphy and graphic design. His projects were wide ranging and fascinating – for example, after the charter of the Bank of America expired, he re-created in hand-rendered script, a precise and accurate recreation of the Bank of Boston Charter in the exact scrivener’s style of the original 1784 document, changing only the original signatories’ names — John Hancock among them – to the current signers. In addition to designing myriad logos, hand lettering pieces, monograms, and other hand drawn graphics, Raphael also designed and drew the font, “Avia” for Font Bureau. Originally created for a custom client, it was a prize winner in an international typeface competition.
He taught at Cooper Union and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) led many workshops nationally and internationally. In his later years, he eventually executed his artworks exclusively in a digital world, working from hand-drawn originals to create digital-only final renderings. With characteristic ardor, he continued to pursue a lifelong interest in classical piano. Additional passions included people (he was a brilliant conversationalist and raconteur) tennis, and radio-controlled model airplanes. He died from complications from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, one week before his 81st birthday.
Enjoy a video narrated by Raphael Boguslav produced in the 1980s for national television and added to YouTube in early 2010.