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Adam Rubin, BFA in Communication Design ’05

Adam Rubin is a #1 New York Times best-selling author whose books have sold over one million copies. He is also a world-renowned designer of optical illusions and impossible objects who has consulted for David Copperfield, Michael Carbonaro, David Blaine, and Derek DelGaudio. In 2016, he was named director of puzzles and games for the retail brand Art of Play, where he is also a partner.

Originally from New York, Rubin earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communications from Washington University in 2005. In college, he developed an interest in improvisational acting and founded the comedy group Suspicious of Whistlers, which continues to perform to this day.

After graduating, Rubin moved to Chicago and landed a job at Leo Burnett writing McDonald’s Happy Meal commercials. At night, he immersed himself in the comedy scene of the city, writing shows and performing at The Annoyance Theater and iO (formerly ImprovOlympic).

In 2007, a friend from WashU introduced him to the illustrator Daniel Salmieri. Their collaboration resulted in a string of award-winning picture books, including Those Darn Squirrels, Dragons Love Tacos, Secret Pizza Party, Robo-Sauce, and High Five.

During this time, Rubin kept his day job, serving as creative director at the New York agency Firstborn. In his ten years in the advertising world, his campaign work with brands like Google, Audible, American Express, and McDonald’s earned industry accolades from the Addy Awards, Young Guns, and Cannes Lions.

In 2015, he abandoned office life and moved to Barcelona. He was inspired to promote Spanish language education back in the United States, and his first bilingual book, El Chupacabras, was voted by students as the winner of the Texas Library Association’s Texas Bluebonnet Award in 2019.

In his current role with Art of Play, he is responsible for curation and design of products for the online wonder emporium. The first brick-and-mortar location recently opened in San Diego, and many of the magical toys, games, and illusions on display were created by Rubin himself. Most recently, he and his partners launched a biannual print journal called Tangram, which celebrates the intersection between art and wonder.

Rubin currently lives in Brooklyn, where he is working on a book of short stories for young readers and experimenting with sculptural astonishment.

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Alumni work

Six illustrated children's book covers are displayed against a bright blue background. The top row of three features "High Five," "Dragons Love Tacos," and "Secret Pizza Party." The bottom row features "El Chupacabras," "Dragons Love Tacos 2," and "Robosauce."

Several objects on a white surface, including in the center, two white, rectangular bowls with curved edges. In the bottom right of the photo, partially cut off, is a small clear bowl with what appears to be a dark yellow liquid in the bottom. Above it, a small, gold-colored object that looks like jacks. At the top of the image, from left, is a triangular wooden board with holes and golden pegs, some scattered on the table, and two stacked books, whose spines read (bottom) Master of Deception and (top) The Ultimate Book of Optical Illusions.

Two duck-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers on a white background. The left one is gray with some lighter-colored speckles, and the right one is white with some gray speckles.