SVA’s subway posters established the school’s graphic presence by using abstract concepts to convey a deeply pragmatic message. Silas Rhodes supplied hand-picked artists with a tag line, in this case “Having a talent isn’t worth much unless you know what to do with it “ (a line written by longtime SVA copywriter Dee Ito). The artists were given free reign to interpret the text as they saw fit. The results were distinctive because they generally didn’t reference art in an overt way, and if they did, the treatment was so fanciful that it still forced the viewer to stop and consider the nature of that particular gift. If you were, say, blessed with the ability to lay a golden egg, or levitate, or suppose you were a monkey with a very special talent, SVA might be just the place for you to channel your inner ape into a pursuit that would sustain you in the real world.
Many of the subway poster images were used on the covers of the school’s continuing education bulletins; a few, as far as I can tell, were never produced in poster format and appeared exclusively on the bulletins.