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Barry Lee Jones

by Andrew Jones


Barry Lee Jones, self portrait left Barry Jones,
self portrait

below Barry’s
business card
Barry was a graphic artist who did illustrations and
graphic design for Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Inc.

Barry Lee Jones was born in 1940 in Wind Gap, Pennsylvania, the son of railroad “hogger” W. T. Jones, and grandson of R. M. Jones, founder of the town of Bangor, Pennsylvania. The next-to-youngest of six children, Barry learned to be self-reliant and resourceful at an early age after his father died. Having to support the family, Barry ran all available paper routes in Wind Gap while juggling his school schedule. Accepted into college but unable to afford it, he became involved in the design and installation of display merchandising materials, quickly learning technique and effect. He became immersed in self-teaching, determined, with experience, to one day helm his own advertising business. From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, Barry involved himself in the design, fabrication, and installation of product displays in stores, package design for consumer and industrial packaging, advertising and public relations, corporate, group and company relations (starting with IT&T). While honing his design and execution skills, Barry studied Grecian Dynamic Symmetry and the Techniques of the Great Masters of Art. Married by then, with two boys, Barry spent time teaching and developing artistic sensibilities in his children (Steven, an accomplished free-style pianist who now works in real estate; and Andrew, an underground painter who spent years in Hollywood, working around the Film industry in various capacities).

Barry Jones, business card

In the early 1970s, with a desire to break free of corporate trappings and politics, Barry created his own advertising agency, providing creative, production and procurement services for business-to-business and consumer marketing communications. He specialized in publication advertising, brochures, sales promotion, point-of-purchase displays, packaging, publicity, feature articles and training programs. The business, located about an hour outside New York City, flourished in the 1980s with competitive rates and superior quality, its many clients including Koh-I-Noor and Mont Blanc. Barry won a number of trademark and design awards, and was admitted into the Society of Illustrators in 1980. Always the workaholic perfectionist, Barry could usually be found “over the ’board” in his home studio, but his flexible working schedule afforded him time and leisurely pursuits with his family (it is testament to his nature that often times Barry’s wife and sons—and even his wire-haired Fox Terrier Frisky—were used as models for his illustrations). Barry’s business continued up until the early 1990s, when computer-created art effectively undercut the expense and labor of the true, hands-on graphic illustrator. Barry went into semi-retirement back in the Pennsylvania country, occasionally delving back into design and merchandising, but preferring to paint images of steam locomotives and the sea, play the banjo, and tinker around with his antique Model A Fords (one of which, a 1929 Huckster truck, featured an original body designed and built by Barry, in beautiful red oak).

Koh-I-Noor Ad ConceptKoh-I-Noor Ad rotring 600 ad concept art - thumbnail
Koh-I-Noor Ad Koh-I-Noor Ad Concept
Koh-I-Noor Ad Concept Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph Catalog B, 1985, cover
Examples of Barry’s work for Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph.

Barry’s passion in life was reflected in what he loved to pursue beyond the drawing board—the easel, and what he taught. Commercial art, while a source of personal satisfaction, was a way to pay the bills. Fine art and editorial illustration were his great loves, as was Ragtime, Dixieland Jazz, Blues. He mastered local history, the trains and canals of Pennsylvania and beyond. He vacationed in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia, on great road-trips in his Huckster truck, and flew to Key West, Florida, many a time.

After nursing his wife Janet through cancer recovery, Barry became ill with cancer himself, but never recovered (a sort of final irony was that Barry, himself a longtime smoker, had worked in retail display installation for R J Reynolds later in life). After a long struggle, Barry died peacefully in his home, his wife at his side, in December of 2004. He was a creative, independent soul who understood and struggled to move beyond his trappings of structure and expectation, at the core a kind and loving father, a human being with a free mind and soul.