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Cipe Pineles

A role model peering over my shoulder

It was 1973, and I had just started my first (and what would turn out to be brief) graphic design job in New York. From the first day, it was impossible not to notice the woman with a charming Viennese accent who dropped in regularly to schmooze with my boss, her good friend, and critique the work.

She called my first week’s effort “too Lubalin.” Her name was Cipe Pineles, and I knew her as the widow of William Golden and a teacher at Parsons. I knew nothing of her place in design history.

To learn, much later, that she was an exceptional art director came as a surprise. Her influence was great. She commissioned a new breed of idea illustration, and used fine artists as well. She designed pages that had an impact on magazine design.

For women, she was a role model: Cipe was the first to be given a membership into the Art Directors Club (and later inducted into the hall of fame). With Seventeen, she showed teenage girls what it was like to be “smart” and “modern,” presaging a new market and a new culture. She was also quite a wonderful human being. Kind, generous, smart—and modest. How ironic that in my continually fruitless search for role models through college and beyond, here was Cipe peering over my shoulder, telling me what to do. And I didn’t even know it.

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