This month, our Member Spotlight shines on Lanny Sommese! As our longest standing member, Lanny has enough years of expertise to give our newest members a run for their money. He’s one of AIGA Philly’s “Founding Fathers” and helped create our chapter—the first local chapter of AIGA. He received the AIGA Fellow Award in 2010. And he likes coffee.
Tell us a little about yourself. What is your current job?
I was professor in charge of the Graphic Design Program at Penn State University starting in 1970. After my retirement in 2013 I have continued to teach senior design classes each semester as an Emeritus Professor, for which I retain my office, computers and teaching assistants. This has allowed me to continue doing poster design for international competitions, exhibitions and museums around the world.
What do you geek out about?
Posters that knock me on my ass.
Why design? What inspires you to do the work you do?
For me, a better question would be “why posters?” They allow me to give voice to my ideas about the “wrongs and rights” of what’s going on in the world. At the same time, doing more pragmatic poster design for plays and other events allows me to give voice to the ideas of others.
Who helped get you here?
My professor from my graduate student days at the University of Illinois, Bill Kinser, was an integral part of my success. I cannot overstate his contribution. I later hired him at Penn State where he was my mentor and colleague for 30 years. Funny, articulate, madman: that was Bill Kinser.
How long have you been an AIGA member? Why did you join?
I believe I’ve been an AIGA member since 1976. Like most, I joined to become a more active participant in the graphic design community. Later, I chaired the AIGA education committee and wrote for the AIGA Journal during Steven Heller’s tenure as editor.
What do you enjoy most about the Philadelphia Chapter of AIGA?
I value their energy; they are always busy. Even though my distance from Philadelphia doesn’t allow me to participate as a Fellow to the extent I’d like, I’m a big a fan of what’s going on.
What gets you through a rough day?
A shitload full of coffee.