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 Lester Thomas Beall  (1903 - 1969)

About: Lester Thomas Beall


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Lived/Active: Connecticut/New York/Kansas/Missouri      Known for: painter, designer, illustrator, lecturer

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A pioneer of twentieth-century American graphic design, Lester Thomas Beall was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on 14 March 1903; his childhood years were spent in St. Louis and Chicago.  Beall was educated at Chicago's Lane Technical School, and began his design career in 1927, the year following his graduation from the University of Chicago.  He married Dorothy Wells Miller in 1928 and they were the parents of two children, Lester Beall, Jr., born in 1928, and Joanna May Beall, born in 1935.

By 1935 Beall had decided to move to New York, and in September of that year opened a studio/office/apartment in Tudor City on Manhattan's east side.  In 1936, while maintaining his office in New York, he moved to Wilton, Connecticut where he established his home and office in a rural setting.  He was to remain in Wilton until 1950. Many of the significant work from this period were done in his studio in Wilton.  Through the 1930s and 40s Beall produced innovative and highly regarded work for the Chicago Tribune, Sterling Engraving, The Art Directors Club of New York, Crowell Publishing Company, Hiram Walker, Abbott Laboratories, Time Magazine, and the United States Government's Rural Electrification Administration, among others.

Beall had moved his office to 580 Fifth Avenue by 1946 and worked from there as well as from his rural Connecticut home and studio, Dumbarton Farm in Brookfield Center, which he had purchased in 1950.  In 1952 Beall took an office at 60 Sutton Place in Manhattan; in 1955 he moved to consolidate all his operations at Dumbarton Farm, developing some of the working farm's outbuildings into professionally praised office and studio space.

During the 1950s and 60s Beall's design office expanded both its staff and scope, adding associate designers and mounting full scale corporate identification campaigns for large companies such as International Paper, Caterpillar Tractor, Martin Marietta and Rohm and Haas.  Beall incorporated his business in June of 1960 and it continued in operation until shortly after his death on June 20, 1969.

Throughout his career Lester Beall was a highly respected designer whose thoughts and principles made him a favored lecturer in professional and educational circles.  He wrote, and was written about, extensively, and his work was regularly featured in American and international design periodicals and books.  During his lifetime he participated in more than one hundred exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including over ten one-man shows, and won over 150 professional awards for his graphic and package designs as well as his personal oil and watercolor paintings.

Submitted by Richard J. Berenson, Member of Permanent Collection Committee of the Society of Illustrators.  His source is the Lester Beall Collection at the Rochester Institute of Technology:

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