Threads of Influence is the detailed excavation and mapping of one life, that of Tom Morin, graphic designer to corporate America for over 40 years. In this book, he assembles the defining moments and influences of his life
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in design to produce a lush visual landscape, a world flourishing with both personal and professional remembrances and peopled by family, teachers, clients, corporations, and contemporaries.
His story begins with relatives migrating from France, England, Ireland, and the American Midwest to settle in Fulton, New York, where Tom was born
in February of 1944. His extended family includes business entrepreneurs, inventors, architects, artists, ranchers, musicians, teachers, ministers, lumbermen, an antique dealer, and one vaudeville silent movie projectionist.
Tom’s family moved to Rochester, New York, in 1954. During his youth, Tom found school difficult, but his interest in art came easy. Classes at the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery and his father’s architectural designs and constructions were his initial inspiration. But it was while summering on an aunt and uncle’s sheep ranch in St. Helena, California, as
a young teen that he was introduced to “Uncle Rudolph,” a family friend
and founder of the esteemed Rudolph Schaeffer School of Design in San Francisco. His new uncle promptly offered Tom a Schaeffer School scholarship, whenever the lad was ready to attend.
Tom barely graduated from high school in 1962, but was accepted at Syracuse University as a “risk” student. There he studied advertising design with the Bauhaus-trained Dr. M. Peter Piening. Piening was “by far the most influential thread in my tapestry,” says Morin. Four years under Piening’s expert and gracious eye led to a semester at the Den Grafiske Højskoles (Graphic College of Denmark) in Copenhagen, a sojourn that marked Tom’s pivotal shift from advertising to graphic design.
A summer internship at the Xerox Corporate Design Center, managed by Jack Hough, led to Tom’s being accepted into Yale University’s graphic design program in the fall of 1966. Two years of studying under Alvin Eisenman, Paul Rand, Herbert Matter, Bradbury Thompson, Norman Ives,
and Walker Evans cemented his direction.