Emmett McBain, born in Chicago in 1935, is perhaps lesser known than some of the other designers profiled here, McBain made major contributions to the advertising and design world, as well as for all African Americans alike through his successes in the business world.
A true visual thinker and communicator, Emmett McBain attended The American Academy of Art and the Illinois Institute of Technology where he became a talented watercolor artist. Post graduation, McBain worked for several notable agencies and firms as a designer, art supervisor, and creative consultant before going on to co-found Burrell McBain Incorporated. An advertising agency, which later went on to become the largest African-American owned agency in the States, Burrell McBain aimed to serve their accounts while gaining the trust and loyalty of the black community. McBain was key in getting the agency up and running, landing valuable accounts, and constantly developing new and fresh ideas. His former partner, Thomas J. Burrell, praised his leadership skills and ability to think outside of the box.
McBain left Burrell McBain in 1974 to focus on independent art and design in his Hyde Park, Chicago neighborhood, where he later passed away in 2012 at the age of 78.
The University of IL at Chicago has a collection featuring his works entitled, Emmett McBain Design Papers. Here you’ll find print ads, record album covers, and transparencies of Billboards, all McBain designed.
Content: Glen Ford Laughton