In the truest sense of the word, all Ives’s work was personal.
The main difference was his awareness of the context. In his design he recognized the need to connect with a universal audience with symbols, posters and book jackets. His commitment to form was consistent in both fields.
In his collages, paintings and prints, his need for specific communication was unnecessary. These were personal poems to be shared with those with like-minded sensibilities. Concepts and inspiration came from the material at hand and his ineffable inner hunger.
Notions of his interpretation of his own work may be found in a few given salient titles. Examples: Empiric, Spring, Introitus, Ionic, Lime House and Heraldic. While many were given titles combining numerals and letters, others were left untitled. The range of moods offered by the works is patent evidence of his shifting moods.
There are two salient events that illustrate the span of his work. In 1967 his 8-foot square painting, Number 3-L, was selected for the Whitney Annual Exhibition of American Artists. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art mounted an exhibition titled 3 graphic designers.