An Advertising Innovator

Thomas H. Geismar is an American graphic designer who explored visual corporate identity by designing abstract and highly symbolic logos. Geismar was part of Chermayeff & Geismar Associates, a design firm originally named Brownjohn, Chermayeff, and Geismar (renamed after Brownjohn left.) Megg’s quotes Geismar on the topic of visual identity:

‘Tom Geismar observed that a symbol must be memorable and have “some barb to it that will make it stick in your mind.” At the same time it must be “attractive, pleasant, and appropriate. The challenge is to combine all those things into something simple.”’


Above: Logos by Chermayeff & Geismar. 

Since 1958, Chermayeff & Geismar (& Haviv, currently) have created “many of the world’s most recognizable trademarks.” In 2014, they received the the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement. Geismar’s work is excellent, but he also put forth a unique way of thinking about design that’s still relevant today: “Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv is known for a collaborative, problem-solving approach to design, with personal involvement by all three principals in every project and continuous attention to the details and nuances of projects as they evolve.”

Quoted from their website


A Psychesydelic Hero

During the 1960’s, the psychedelic poster gained momentum in America, fuelled by (according to Megg’s History of Graphic Design) current social liberation movements, drug culture, antiestablishment sentiments, rock music, and other “fringe” cultures, such as the hippie movement.

Wes Wilson, who designed posters for the Grateful Dead and the Association, among many others, contributed to developing the psychedelic style, which borrows the flowing, organic lines of art nouveau, the cultural references of pop art, and vibrant colours often used in op-art.


Wilson used saturated colours, warped text, and mesmerizing lines to create compelling, but disorienting, posters.

Although the psychedelic poster is associated with the 60’s, typography from this movement, and the general style, is used by businesses today. For example, I believe Budgie’s Burritos (Vancouver) employed elements of this style in decorating the restaurant – perhaps the owners were even inspired by Wilson’s art.


Image source.