Vignelli Center
for Design Studies
Rochester Institute of Technology
 
Exhibits

George Lois

An exhibition of Esquire magazine covers was shown at RIT’s University Gallery in 2012 when Lois collaborated with Massimo Vignelli at a design workshop at the Vignelli Center for Design Studies.

 

An eminent twentieth century American graphic designer, art director and author George Lois is recognized for the covers he designed for Esquiremagazine during 1960s. The Museum of Modern Art showcased thirty-two covers that Lois designed for the magazine.

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George Lois

 

 

On June 26, 1931, in New York City, US, George Lois was born to Greek immigrants. He received his early education from the High School of Music and Art. He even earned a basketball scholarship to Syracuse University. However, he preferred attending Pratt Institute over Syracuse. After studying for only one year at Pratt, Lois gave up his studies so as to work for Reba Sochis. He continued to work there until he was conscripted into army and sent to fight in the Korean War.

 

Subsequent to serving in army, Lois was appointed at CBS in the promotion and advertising department. He was given the responsibility of handling print and media projects. In the late 1950s, Doyle Dane Bernbach, an advertising agency hired him. As he gained some experience there, he was offered jobs at various firms, including Fred Papert and Julian Koenig. The latter wanted to form Papert Koenig Lois with him in 1960. In fact, the firm PKL became the first advertising agency to ever list in stock exchange. In the following year, he left PKL to join another corporation which later became Lois, Holland, Callaway. His career thrived over the period of time and eventually he created his own agency Lois/USA which was dissolved at the end of the century. He launched memorable campaigns for his clients, such as Minolta, Tourneau and The Four Seasons.

 

Lois created a campaign for Braniff International Airways, in 1968. The promotional tagline said When You Got It, Flaunt It. His revolutionary promotional techniques sent the airlines popularity and profits skyrocketing by 80 percent. He created an eccentric yet eye-catching commercial for the airline, pairing the unlikely celebrities, Andy Warhol and Sonny Liston, who are shown to be sitting in the aircraft discussing the uncanny topics. He developed several other memorable campaigns “The Big Idea” and “I Want My MTV”.  He named Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine frozen food line and helped create and introduce VH1. Moreover, he brought the world’s leading brand, Tommy Hilfiger, to limelight with his initial advertising campaign. Lois and Jerry Cotts are credited with the direction of Bob Dylan’s song Jokerman’s music video.

 

In addition to that, Lois has received numerous accolades for his zealous contribution to advertising industry. He is deemed the only person to have the honor of being inducted in all the prestigious halls of fame. This included The Art Directors Hall of Fame, The One Club Creative Hall of Fame and the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame. He earned the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts. The Society of Publication Designers and the School of Visual Arts also inducted him as a subject of the Master Series. Lois and the other creative geniuses of his time are featured in the movie Art & Copy as the central subject.

 

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Covers for Esquire magazine, designed by George Lois

 

 

Notwithstanding the respect George Lois has earned for his work, he remained a controversial figure in the advertising scene. He has been repeatedly accused of taking credit for others’ creative ideas and hard work. Furthermore, he has gained notorious reputation by exaggerating his contribution to the projects. He once even falsely claimed to have created the Volkswagen ad campaign, which The New York Times corrected in their following issues as being Julian Koenig and Helmut Krone’s creation.