SVA Masters Recipient: Tom Geismar

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This article from Grids + Guides in Print’s International Design Issue takes a brief look at the SVA 26th Masters Series Award recipient, Tom Geismar. Pick up an issue today for more design news, including advice from Geismar. Plus, take an in-depth look at graffiti across the world, Cuban poster design and more. Subscribe today and never miss another issue.

Geismar Gets His Due

Tom Geismar is a living legend. He’s created more than 100 identity systems for clients such as Mobil, Xerox and Chase Bank, just to name a few. He’s a founding member of the influential Geismar & Chermayeff & Haviv. He’s created exhibitions for museums across the country, such as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, The Jefferson Library at the Library of Congress, the Statue of Liberty Museum and the Holocaust Memorial at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. And he’s been doing it for more than five decades—an impressive feat in an ever-changing field.


Tom Geismar’s legacy includes iconic logo systems, such as those behind him in this photo by Art Beach, 2014.

It’s no wonder that Geismar was chosen to be the School of Visual Arts’ 26th Masters Series Award recipient, an honor that places him among the likes of Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser and Paula Scher. Masters Series honorees are nominated by their peers for their achievements and enduring impact on the industry—truly the masters of design.

“The Masters Series: Tom Geismar” includes a major career retrospective, showcasing his identity systems and museum pieces with large-scale images. Plus, it provides an exclusive look into Geismar’s personal life via student projects, original birthday and holiday cards, posters, early drawings and the Symbol Signs project.


Geismar has also created work for exhibitions, such as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in this photo. Photo by Ellis Immigration Museum, 1990.

“I want to show examples of the breadth of the projects that I’ve been involved with over the years, from curating and designing exhibitions to designing logos for complex organizations, to the full range of print graphics,” Geismar says.

Along with the exhibition, which will be on display at the SVA Chelsea Gallery in New York City through Oct. 18, Geismar will lecture about his work. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held Oct. 7 at SVA.


Learn from the master Tom Geismar and his firm partners with Identify: Basic Principles of Identity Design in the Iconic Trademarks of Chermayeff & Geismar. Written by Sagi Haviv, Tom Geismar and Ivan Chermayeff, this is an inside look into the process of creating identities for some of the biggest brands.