The man who created some of the most memorable and highly original Esquire covers also produced some of the most punchy brand logos that could only have emanated from New York.
No-nonsense, Bronx-born George Lois of Greek heritage was just as at home with graphics as he was with advertising, directing commercials, writing pithy copy and designing packaging.
Described as the original enfant terrible of Madison Avenue, he was never backwards about speaking his mind. At his peak, he operated in the intense jungle of New York’s advertising world amidst its mouthy taxi drivers, sweltering summers and harsh winters. It was a boiler house where those who shouted the loudest were heard. In the 1960s and ’70s, one of the loudest voices was George Lois, whose signature was on magazine covers, TV commercials, packaging, branding, copywriting and advertising. His iconic covers for Esquire magazine, which he produced for a decade, are still held up as masterpieces in conceptual design, making covers on the newsstands today look feeble and bland.
Lois believed in working in harmonious surroundings: both his office and home were immaculate, with a sense of order and calm that allowed him a backdrop from which to take flight wherever his creativity took him. He once said of untidy spaces: ‘The world is made up of people who insist that they want to exist in a “lived- in” atmosphere. I say it’s a rationalisation for being a slob’.
Lois in his 37th floor office at Papert Koenig Lois in downtown Manhattan in the 1970s.
Lois’s Greenwich Village apartments (he had two knocked through), with 50-foot wide living room.
There are few pioneers left like Lois, who carved out a very personal stamp in the creative jungle. Today, collaboration is king, and the auteur is a reality.