Beall, Lester, 1903-1969

Alternative names
Birth 1903
Death 1969
Italian, German, English

Biographical notes:

Lester Thomas Beall (1903-1969), American graphic designer.

From the description of Lester Beall papers, 1911-1984 (inclusive), 1933-1969 (bulk) (RIT Library). WorldCat record id: 652961830

Lester Beall (1903-1969) was a self-taught graphic designer who worked in the areas of corporate identity, advertising, and packaging. Beall was born in Kansas City, but grew up in Chicago. He received a degree in art history from the University of Chicago and began his career as a graphic designer in Chicago. In 1935, he moved his studio to New York. Among Lester Beall's best remembered designs are the poster campaign for the Rural Electrification Administration in the 1930s and the graphic identity for International Paper in the 1960s.

From the description of Lester Beall Design collection, 1934-1962. (University of Illinois-Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 61184036

American designer Lester Beall (1903-1969) was educated at Lane Technical School in Chicago and received a bachelor's degree in art history from the University of Chicago. Upon discovering the work of the European avant-garde, Beall was inspired to bring American design of the 1930s and 1940s to a higher level of effective visual communication. Self-taught, Lester Beall was one of the first Americans to have his work shown in a German monthly graphics periodical, Gebrauchsgraphik, and was one of the first Americans to incorporate the New Typography, using techniques such as photomontage, collage and the use of cut-out flat colored paper in combination with photography and economical line drawing, reworking the element of European modernism into distinctive American style. He produced solutions to graphic design problems that were unique among his American contemporaries.

Beall moved from Chicago to New York in 1935 and did work that was influential to the field of editorial design. Between 1938 and 1940, he redesigned twenty magazines for McGraw Hill, in 1946 he designed two covers for Fortune and in 1944, he began designing Scope magazine for UpJohn Pharmaceuticals which he did until 1951. In 1952, Beall opened a design office on Dumbarton Farm, his home in rural Connecticut. In 1973, four years after his death, Lester Beall was inducted into the New York Art Directors Club Hall of Fame.

Philip B. Meggs credits Beall with "almost single-handedly launching the modern movement in American design". In 1973, four years after his death, the Art Directors Club of New York belatedly elected him to its prestigious Hall of Fame. Bob Plisken, who worked for Beall in the early 1940s, said on that occasion, "In my opinion, Beall did more than anyone to make graphic design in American a distinct and respected profession."

From the description of Lester Beall collection, 1933-[ca. 1967]. (Smithsonian Institution Libraries). WorldCat record id: 51652514


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  • Advertising--Drugs
  • Graphic arts--History--20th century--Sources
  • Graphic artists--History--20th century
  • Logos (Symbols)--History--20th century
  • Design--History--Congresses
  • Commercial art--History--20th century--Sources
  • Graphic arts--History--20th century
  • Commercial art--Sources
  • Corporation reports
  • Trademarks--History--20th century
  • Drugs--Packaging
  • Designers--History--20th century


  • Graphic designers--United States
  • Commercial artists--United States


  • Dumbarton Farm (Brookfield, Conn.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)