Alston Purvis

Philip Alston Willcox Purvis (born 1943), son of Melvin Purvis, is an American graphic designer, artist, professor and author. He currently is an Associate Professor at [ Boston University College of Fine Arts] where he has been Chairman of the Graphic Design Department since September 1981.He served as Director Ad Interim for the School of Visual Arts (Boston University College of Fine Arts) from 1997 until 2002, during which time he continued his duties as Chair of the Graphic Design Department. Alston Purvis has taught in many renowned institutions like The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, The Hague, The Netherlands (1971-1981), the Cooper Union: New York (1969) and the University of South Carolina. He has presented lectures at the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Wolfsonian Foundation at Florida International University, and many others.


Alston Purvis has studied with some of the most renowned graphic designers, like Paul Rand.

* BFA in Graphic Design, Virginia Commonwealth University
* MFA in Graphic Design, Yale University

Published Work


As author:

* [ "Posters NL, 100 jaar affiches in Nederland] (with Cees W. de Jong, Martijn F. Le Coultre), VK Projects, 2007. (ISBN 978-90-5212-005-8)

* "Jan Tschichold: Posters of the Avantgarde" (with Martijn F. Le Coultre), V&K Publishing, Laren, The Netherlands , 2006. (ISBN 9783764376048)

* [ "Dutch Graphic Design"] , Thames & Hudson, London, 2006. (ISBN 050051285X)

* [ "Megg's History of Graphic Design"] , (with Philip B. Meggs) 4th edition, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, 2005. (ISBN 978-0-471-69902-6)

* [ "The Vendetta: FBI Hero Melvin Purvis’s War Against Crime and J. Edgar Hoover’s War Against Him"] Public Affairs, New York 2005. (ISBN 1586483013)

* [ "Creative Type: A Sourcebook of Classic and Contemporary Letterforms'] ' (Co-author) Thames & Hudson, 2005. (ISBN 0500512299)

* [ "H.N. Werkman"] Laurence King, London; Yale University Press, New Haven; Atrium, Amsterdam, 2004 (ISBN 0300102909)

* "Graphic Design 20th Century" (Co-author). V&K Publishing, Blaricum, The Netherlands, 2003 (ISBN 1568984146)
* "A Century of Posters" (Co-author) V&K Publishing, Blaricum, The Netherlands, 2002 (ISBN 9040088101)

* "Wendingen 1918-1932" (Co-author) Princeton Architectural Press, New York; V&K Publishing, Laren, N.H., The Netherlands, 2001 (ISBN 1568982763)

* "Dutch Graphic Design: 1918-1945". Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1992 (ISBN 0442004443)

As contributor:

* "Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman and The Next Call" Massachusetts College of Art Catalogue, September 1994

* "H.N. Werkman: The Calendar as Medium" "Ploeg Jaarboek" 2004, (Ploeg Annual 2004)Stichting De Ploeg, Groninger Museum Groningen, The Netherlands, 2005

* "Graphic Design History", "Renewal and Upheaval: Dutch Graphic Design Between the Wars", "H.N. Werkman: The Outsider", Edited by Steven Heller and Georgette Balance, Allworth Press, New York, 2001


* "In Agris Occupatis, Dutch Design During the German Occupation." "Print Magazine", July/August 1996

* "The Typographic Art of H. N. Werkman" "Print Magazine", May/June 1995

* "The Extraordinary Signs of Walker Evans", "Print Magazine", September/October 1993

* "Renewal and Upheaval, Dutch Design Between the Wars", "Print Magazine", November/December 1991

Curated Exhibitions

* "Dutch Graphic Design, 1918-1945", The David and Sandra Bakalar Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Massachusetts, September 8 - October 29, 1994

* "Facets of the Same Nature; A Survey of Contemporary Dutch Ceramics", The David and Sandra Bakalar Gallery, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, Massachusetts, September 8 - October 29, 1994

* "The European Avant Garde Poster: Vintage posters from The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and Russia", Boston University Art Gallery, Boston, Massachusetts, October 7 - December 1, 1993


* [ Alston Purvis Bio] at Boston University CFA School of Visual arts website
* [ Alston Purvis search results at]
* [ CFA Professor Alston Purvis paints a dark portrait of how J. Edgar Hoover’s jealousy took its toll on his father,legendary crime fighter Melvin Purvis.]
* [ Heroes and Villains]
* [ Perseus Books]
* ALSTON PURVIS, Son of FBI Agent Melvin Purvis, of the FBI Bureau in Chicago, [ Interview 4/29/03 by Brian Bull]
* [ "The Vendetta" Google Books]
* [ "H. N. Werkman" Google Books]
* [ "Graphic Design 20th Century" Book Pictures and Review]

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