Missing in the Text Book: Lester Beall

Lester Beall. Rural Electrification Administration. 1937. Lithograph, 40 x 30″ (101.6 x 76.2 cm).

Lester Beall should be included in the next edition of Graphic Design: A New History. I know I’ve spoken a ton about him by now, after choosing the advertisement poster he created for the Rural Electrification Administration. I wanted to talk about him again to discuss why he should be included in the next edition of our textbook, and this opportunity to showcase a different piece of his work rather than continuing to focus Radio – Rural Electrification Administration.

As I’ve said before, Beall’s influence on the profession of graphic designers was immense. During his career throughout the 1930’s and 40’s, Beall helped shift how companies viewed designers. At the time designers were seen only to fulfill a mundane and boring role. Beall changed that view into one where designers are far more important during the branding process. Beall had thought that the role of the designer was not to simply create one thing and move on, but rather an ongoing involvement. The involvement of a designer begins with the development of a trademark, and on to the application, and finally the protection of the trademark.

Taking a look at his piece included in his series for the Rural electrification Administration, which is considered to be one of the greatest American posters of all time, a photomontage of an American boy and girl looking towards the future in front of a pattern reminiscence of the American flag. Lester Beall’s frequent combination of photos in his posters, coupled with his precise execution of typography and bold colours placed him a head of his contemporaries in North America. Beall found inspiration in the works of both students and teachers of the Bauhaus school in Germany. His bold use of colours, perspective, and photomontage can be traced back to his Bauhaus contemporaries.

I feel that a designer who’s work and attitude to the field of graphic design should be included in the textbook, regardless of how well known or popular his or her work was, should be studied.

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