E. Simms Campbell
Illustrator and commercial artist E. Simms Campbell was a trailblazer in the print world at a time where Black voices weren’t prominent. Campbell was born in Missouri to educator parents but moved to Chicago as a kid following his father’s death. Working for his high school newspaper fostered his love for illustration and cartooning. He attended the University of Chicago before transferring to the Chicago Art Institute.
Following his college years, Campbell’s caricatures caught the eye of Triad Studios, where he worked for two years. Soon, his work made waves after moving to New York, where he contributed illustrations to Life and Judge magazines. This buzz led to him working for national mainstream publications, including Cosmopolitan, Ebony, The New Yorker, Redbook, Playboy, and a twenty-year tenure with Esquire. He created the magazine’s iconic mascot Esky. His hard work paid off as he became the first Black cartoonist to have a syndicated comic strip with Cuties in over 145 newspapers.
In his later years, Campbell continued to work in illustration and design following his exit from Esquire. The illustrator passed away on January 27, 1971, from a brief illness related to cancer.
Visual and commercial artist Thomas Miller was influential in the commercial design world. Miller was born and raised in Virginia to working-class parents. His love for art started at a young age after becoming fascinated with Leonardo da Vinci. After graduating high school, he attended and graduated from Virginia State University before joining the military in World War II.
Miller didn’t start doing art professionally until he returned from the war and enrolled in Chicago’s Ray Vogue School of the Arts. After graduating, he faced an uphill battle in finding employment before landing a position at the prominent firm Gerstel/Loeff. However, it was his 35-year tenure at the renowned graphics studio Morton Goldsholl Associates. He was instrumental in several major advertising campaigns like the 7-Up and Motorola rebranding. Outside his commercial work, he built a career as an independent artist through private commissions and gallery showcases.
After retiring from Morton Goldsholl, Miller created the Founders Mosaics for the DuSable Museum of African American History in 1995. In his later years, he kept commissioned independent artwork for other entities and displayed his work in galleries. The artist passed away on July 19, 2012, from natural causes.
Graphic and commercial designer Georg Olden was influential in commercial and motion design. Olden grew up the youngest of three children moving from Alabama to Virginia to Washington, D.C. after his father left for his civil rights work. He began drawing in high school before attending and dropping out of Virginia State University.
Olden’s graphic design began after enlisting in the military and joining the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). His time in the military was fruitful as VP of CBS Television Lawrence W. Lowman was his colonel and recruited him to be a graphic designer. From 1945 to 1960, he served as director of graphic design, where he and his team created countless network and show ids for classics like Gunsmoke, I Love Lucy, and Lassie. During this time, he became the first Black person to design a U.S. stamp, celebrating 100 years of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963.
After leaving CBS, Olden worked for notable advertising agencies BBDO and McCann Erickson. The designer passed away on February 25, 1975, after being killed by his live-in girlfriend.
Graphic designer and educator Gail Anderson helped to make type a force in design. Anderson is a first-generation Jamiacan-Ameircan born and raised in New York. She became fascinated with designing after crafting faux fan magazines for the Jackson 5 and the Partridge Family. Her love for design led her to attend and graduate from the School of Visual Arts.
Anderson started her design career by working at Vintage Books and The Boston Globe Sunday Magazine. After working for both organizations, she spent fifteen years at Rolling Stone, going from assistant to senior art director. The graphic designer crafted multiple covers and editorial stories featuring celebrities like Gillan Anderson and Alicia Keys. After her Rolling Stone tenure, she worked for the advertising agency SpotCo from 2002 to 2010. During this time, she designed a U.S. stamp celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. She extended her design skills to multiple Broadway and off-Broadway productions.
Anderson has continued to work in commercial design through her agency Anderson Newton Design with Joe Newton. She continues to teach future designers as a professor at her alma mater.
Archie Boston Jr.
Graphic artist and educator Archie Boston Jr. shaped the look of American advertising and commercial design for decades. Boston is one of five children born to a truck driver and caregiver in Florida. His high school art teacher encouraged him to enter a local art exhibition. Another source of inspiration came from his older brother Bradford, who was a designer as well. He followed his older brother to the California Institute of Arts, where he majored in graphic design.
Following his time at CalArts, Boston worked at Hixson and Jorgensen Advertising and Botsford Ketchum before forming Boston & Boston with his older brother. The design duo crafted notable campaigns for Beckman Instruments, Chiat/Day Advertising, and Concord Electronics. Eventually, the agency dissolved as he worked for Botsford Ketchum for eight years and started Archie Boston Graphic Design. During this period, he became the first Black president of the Art Director Club of Los Angeles.
At the same time, Boston was a faculty member at California State University, Long Beach, from 1977 to 2009. Since retirement, he delved into documentary filmmaking with the release of 20 Outstanding Los Angeles Designers and Black Pioneers of the Sunshine City.