Even if you never knew its name, anyone who was around during the 90s has at some point run into this familiar pattern, known as “Jazz.” The purple and teal oil-crayon scribble became so popular that it has since transformed into the quintessential symbol of its decade.
These days, “Jazz” fandom has increased even more as 90s kids across the country grow older and more attached to the nostalgic symbol from their youth. Originally designed as a pattern for cups and other paper goods, decades later, the “Jazz” cult following continues to apply the famed design to their clothing, screen savers, nail art and even their cars.
The Reddit Investigation
The question as to who actually designed the iconic “Jazz” scribble first arose online through the outspoken Reddit community. One user posted a series of questions directed towards its creator in hopes of finding the person responsible for the pattern.
The user’s questions included how much he or she got paid for their work and if they “anticipated how ubiquitous the image would become.” They also inquired into how long it took to come up with the pattern, how it feels that the design became a part of the 90s culture and where he or she was in their career when they came up with the design.
That’s all it took for the investigation to get underway. Suddenly everyone wanted to know who it was that designed this iconic scribble. The post received over 900 comments, all from people hoping to get to the bottom of this graphic design mystery.
Thomas Gounley, a Watchdog Reporter for Missouri’s Springfield News-Leader noticed this online investigation and decided to do some digging himself. By following the clues left on Reddit, Gounley was able to track down the designer.
The clues online finally brought Gounley to Gina Ekiss, who had worked at the Springfield plant of the Sweetheart Cup company from 1987 to 2002. Sweetheart would later be acquired by Solo in 2004. According to Gina, in 1989 the company held a contest to create a new stock image. It was for this contest that she created “Jazz.”
The design then began filling shelves in 1992 and naturally gained the momentum that we know today. Ekiss noted that although the pattern did become famous, she herself did not receive any royalties or bonus after her design won the contest. At least now she is getting the credit that she deserved.
However, naming Gina as the designer did not come without contention. One Reddit user actually made the claim that she was in fact the designer of the “Jazz” while she was working for Imperial Bondware in Kenton, Ohio.
According to her, she designed the pattern in the late 80s which was then picked up by Sweetheart and assigned to Gina. She then claims that Gina was asked to tweak the design to avoid copyright issues. Whether or not you believe this claim or you choose to name Gina the rightful owner is up to you.