An example of Norman Ives’s writing ability came during his undergraduate studies in the Classics at Wesleyan University in 1948-1949. In an ambitious thesis he produced an edition of ten hardbound copies of a book titled Herakles 12 Labors. Next to his semi-abstract illustrations are his twelve satirical verses. These balanced his accompanying scholarly paper tracing the origins of Herakles.

Ives produced a similarly erudite paper for a second book from the same time, A Set of Lithographs Illustrating Moby Dick.

Alvin Lustig was a vital member of Yale’s first design faculty. He proposed that designers were obliged to write about the process of their ill-defined field. Lustig’s words may have prompted Ives’s forty page thesis titled Letter Forms on Architecture during the Brown Decades in the Urban East. It was illustrated with photographs by Ives.

Eight years later Ives produced a fifteen page illustrated essay titled Architectural Graphics addressing many of the same concerns. It was published in Architectural Record, June 1960. (Read the article here)

When Ives self-published 8 symbols in 1960, he defined and characterized each symbol in detail. The content and the presentation are seamless. It was a rarity for Ives to write in detail about his work. (Read 8 Symbols here)

Also in 1960, Ives wrote “Dialogs on Graphic Design” for Industrial Design Magazine, vol. 7. He discussed the role of graphic designers and how they must interpret ideas. He believed that vision is the most universal of languages; seeing is more convincing than reading. It is up to the designer to interpret our culture in a way that is understood through the eye. (Read the article here)