Lester Beall Born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1903, Beall’s early childhood years were spent in St. Louis and Chicago. Lester Beall was educated at Chicago’s Lane Technical School and graduated from the University of Chicago. Lester Beall began his design career in 1927. By 1935 Beall had decided to move to New York and in late September of that year had opened a studio/office in his apartment in Tudor City on Manhattan’s east side. In 1936, while maintaining the office in New York, he moved to Wilton, Connecticut where he established his home and studio in a rural setting. Lester Beall was to remain in Wilton until 1950. Many of the significant works from this period were done in this location. Through the 1930s and 1940s Beall produced innovative and highly regarded work for clients including the Chicago Tribune, Sterling Engraving, The Art Directors Club of New York, Hiram Walker, Abbott Laboratories and Time magazine. Of particular interest was his work for the Crowell Publishing Company which produced Colliers magazine.
The promotional covers “Will There Be War?” and “Hitler’s Nightmare” are powerful designs which distill messages of the time. In these works he utilizes angled elements, iconic arrows, silhouetted photographs and dynamic shapes, all of which captures the essence of his personal style of the late 1930s. Also of interest in this period are the remarkable poster series for the United States Government’s Rural Electrification Administration. In all Beall designed three series of posters between 1937 and 1941 with the simple goals of increasing the number of rural Americans who would electrify their homes and increasing public awareness of the benefits of electricity. His poster for the ill-fated “Freedom Pavilion” at the 1939 World’s Fair was another dynamic example of this time in which he used what he called “thrust and counter-thrust” of design elements.