Malcolm Grear

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Malcolm Grear
Malcolm Grear in his studio
Born(1931-06-12)June 12, 1931
DiedJanuary 24, 2016(2016-01-24) (aged 84)
OccupationGraphic Designer

Malcolm Grear (June 12, 1931 – January 24, 2016) was an American graphic designer whose work encompassed visual identity programs, print publications, environmental design, packaging, and website design. He is best known for his visual identity work and designed logos for the Department of Health and Human Services, the Veterans Administration, the Presbyterian Church USA, and Vanderbilt University. He was the CEO of Malcolm Grear Designers, a design studio in Providence, Rhode Island.

Early life and education[edit]

Grear was born in Mill Springs, Kentucky on June 12, 1931 to Carl and Elizabeth (Canada) Grear.[1] After high school Grear joined the Navy, where he trained as an aviation metalsmith, a skill that would subsequently gain him entry to the Art Academy of Cincinnati. There, Grear attended several art and design courses.[2]


Grear started his teaching career at the University of Louisville, before moving on to the Rhode Island School of Design’s graphic design faculty from 1960 to 1998, serving as its chairman from 1965 through 1969. He has earned an international reputation as a leader in the field of design education and has received five honorary doctorates.[1][3] His teaching style emphasized rigor within design thinking framework.[4]

Grear established Malcolm Grear Designers (MGD) in 1960 and built the studio into a highly respected firm known for its clean lines and clarity of vision. Grear has done memorable visual identity programs for a wide range of clients, including Sonesta International Hotels, Emory University, Colby College Museum of Art, Visual Magnetics, and New Bedford Whaling Museum. MGD has produced award-winning print design work for Scientific American Library, the Guggenheim Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The RISD Museum, The National Gallery, Harvard University, and the Hallmark Photographic Collection. In the realm of environmental graphics, the studio has designed communication and sign systems for Mayo Clinic, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Brown University, King Khalid City and the MBTA, along with exhibitions for numerous museums, including MIT's 150th Anniversary exhibition.[2] His design of the Presbyterian Church USA's logo marked the organization's shift to unify and support for abortion rights.[5][6]

In 1996, MGD was selected to design the "Look of the Games" for the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. The studio was also chosen to design the 31 sports pictograms, the Olympic torch, safety lantern, traveling cauldron, the Olympic medals, and a commemorative poster. Grear, who believes his small studio was chosen "because of our record—because we respect tradition and avoid novelty," commented at the time: "It doesn't get much better than this. This has got to be one of the highest honors for a design firm."[2]

Death and legacy[edit]

He died on January 24, 2016 in Wakefield, Rhode Island. The Malcolm Grear Endowed Scholarship Fund was established in 2012 at RISD.[1][7]


  • Grear, Malcolm (1993). Inside/Outside: From the Basics to the Practice of Design. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. ISBN 0-442-01667-0.
  • Grear, Malcolm (2006). Inside/Outside: From the Basics to the Practice of Design: Second Edition. New York: AIGA/New Riders, An Imprint of Peachpit Press/Pearson Education. ISBN 0-321-44067-6.



  • Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame Inductee, 2010[8]
  • "Kentucky Star" by the Downtown Lexington Corporation, 2005
  • "History Maker of Rhode Island", Rhode Island Historical Society, 2000
  • Claiborne Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts, 1998
  • National Association of Schools of Art and Design, Citation for Distinguished Service in the Visual Arts, 1997
  • John R. Frazier Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1986
  • Rhode Island Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, 1969


  1. ^ a b c "Remembering Malcolm Grear 1931–2016 - Malcolm Grear Designers". Malcolm Grear Designers. Archived from the original on 2016-01-30. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  2. ^ a b c Grear, Malcolm (2006-06-27). Inside / Outside: From the Basics to the Practice of Design, Second Edition. New Riders. ISBN 9780132798136.
  3. ^ Featured Logo Designer, accessed June 2010
  4. ^ "Malcolm Grear". Design Observer. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  5. ^ Goldman, Ari L.; Times, Special to The New York (1985-06-11). "Presbyterians Consider Shift in Stand for Abortion Rights". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  6. ^ "Redesigning a Symbol of Faith". AIGA | the professional association for design. Retrieved 2019-06-04.
  7. ^ "Recognizing a Living Legend | News | About | RISD". Archived from the original on 2016-02-05. Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  8. ^ Providence Journal, "8 Rhode Islanders to be inducted into Hall of Fame", April 29, 2010

External links[edit]