2004 AIGA Medalist: The Coynes

2004 AIGA Medal
1926, Seattle, Washington (Richard S. Coyne); 1928, St. Paul, Minnesota (Jean A. Coyne); Born: 1957, Palo Alto, California (Patrick S. Coyne)



Creators of beloved family-run visual culture magazineCommunication Arts.

For almost half a century Communication Arts has provided a consistently revered forum for the best work created by the visual communication industry. Since it was launched by Richard Coyne and his partner Bob Blanchard, this magazine, that continues to be edited and published under the guidance of Coyne's wife Jean and their son Patrick, has been driven by the desire for improvement. Much of the profits from the magazine are channeled back into the business to enable various production-related enhancements such as better paper, more color, and bigger issues

The first issue of CA was published in August 1959. It was the first U.S. magazine printed by offset lithography. It was also perfect bound. Since there were no commercial perfect binders available, the binding tape and cover were applied by hand at Stanford University Press.

Within six months, paid circulation grew to 10,000. CA's annual competition was launched in 1960 and received 5,000 entries. It continues to this day to provide a visual index of the strongest work in the U.S. Advertising, however, was slow to pick up and CA was carried through many periods of financial stress by the sheer determination of its founders. After Blanchard left to go into business by himself Coyne, with only a small staff to help him, continued to write the copy, design the layouts, and even to do all the litho stripping.


CA Magazine
Communications Arts cover designed by Richard Coyne, 1966.
CA Magazine
Communication Arts cover designed by Jean Coyne.
CA Cover
Communication Arts cover designed by Jean Coyne, 1976.

Despite the long hours, Coyne found the work exhilarating. In 1969, he wrote, “What a decade it was. One could find little argument that this was probably the most important decade in the history of visual communication. Design, advertising, film, all were buffeted by extreme change.”

Jean Coyne, who met her husband while studying art and design at Cornish School, began working full-time when their youngest of three children reached school age. By 1984, circulation had grown to 50,000 and the staff to 10.

In 1986 Patrick Coyne joined the magazine and encouraged the use of digital technology in the magazine's production. During this transitional period Dick Coyne was diagnosed with lung cancer and succumbed to the disease on August 30, 1990.

In 2001, recognizing the potential for the web to become an integral part of the business, and continuing the magazine's legacy of continual self-improvement, the Coynes launched a three-site online network that includes an information resource for creators of interactive media, a customizable job-listing service, and an interface for the magazine.

CA cover
Communication Arts cover designed by Patrick Coyne, 2002.
CA cover
Communication Arts cover designed by Patrick Coyne, 2002.
CA cover
Communication Arts cover.