Meggs, Philip B(axter) 1942-2002

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MEGGS, Philip B(axter) 1942-2002

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born May 30, 1942, in Newberry, SC; died of leukemia November 24, 2002, in Richmond, VA. Graphic designer, educator, and author. Meggs was an authority on the history of graphic design and wrote the first book in the United States to cover the full history of the graphic arts. He was a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he earned an M.F.A. in 1971. Meggs began his career as a graphics designer at Reynolds Aluminum in 1965 and from 1966 to 1968 was art director for A. H. Robins Co. When he took a position as an instructor at his alma mater in 1968, Meggs discovered that his students did not understand the history of typography and book design; he therefore created a course that covered everything from the invention of the printing press up to the computer age. The research materials and syllabuses he developed became the core of his landmark book A History of Graphic Design (1983; third edition, 1992), which has since become required reading in graphics design courses in the United States. Meggs remained at Virginia Commonwealth University for the rest of his career, becoming professor of communications and arts and design in 1983; he was also dean of the department from 1974 to 1987. In addition to his influential history, Meggs wrote and edited several other books about printing and graphics design, including cowriting Typographic Design: Form and Communication (1985) and coediting Texts on Type: Critical Writings on Typography (2001); he was also a regular contributor to Print magazine. Beginning in 1993, Meggs lent his experience to the U.S. Postal Service's citizen stamp advisory committee, and his name was in the news for his criticism of the redesign of U.S. currency; he believed that the designs were timid and dated. Meggs was presented an award for excellence in publishing from the American Association of Publishers for his History of Graphic Design, and in 2002 was given the Educator Award from the Art Directors Club of New York.



Who's Who in American Art, 23rd edition, Marquis (New Providence, NJ), 1999.


Los Angeles Times, December 6, 2002, p. B15.

New York Times, December 1, 2002, p. A34.