The world lost Stan Gellman

Graphic designers are people who hate boredom.

The best designers are the people who are never bored — the world is too interesting, too full of things to try, to explore.

The world lost Stan Gellman last week. Stan was never bored, and he was never boring. He started his artistic life as an “Assistant Window Trimmer” for a small midwestern retail chain, inking up “Easter Sale” signs with a roller and ink tube. Then, after a stint in the military, he backed-in into graphic design classes at Washington University under the tutelage of Peter Geist III. He explored and meandered his way to the legendary St. Louis design studio Frank James, where half-wizard/half-rabbi Frank Roth led a band of merry pranksters in the invention of what we now call “Sales Promotion.” He created an indelible series of screen printed posters of St. Louis landmarks. The most famous, a rainbow reflection on the Arch against a perfect blue sky, was done for Mayor John Poelker because “the President’s wife [that would have been Rosalynn Carter] was coming to town, and the Mayor wanted to give something to her.” Sometimes lifelong success is just that simple.

Stan became the preeminent graphic designer in St. Louis in the 1970s and 80s. His firm has been open under the same name for 46 years. Forty-six!! In between, he married the love of his life, stayed married to her for more than 66 years, and influenced hundreds of young designers and illustrators. He welcomed all with a broad, toothy smile. His daughter followed his footprints and took over the reins of Stan Gellman Graphic Design when her father retired. But he didn’t start being boring. He became entranced by oil pastels and deep-etch intaglio printing and remained a student of those art forms for his long life. He was still making art in his 80s.

Stan did life well. He’s a pretty darn good role model for anyone wanting to live a full, happy life. Godspeed.

“The lyfe so short, the craft so long to learn.” — Chaucer

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By Eric Thoelk
Published April 11, 2017
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