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George Beach

Artist and businessman George Albert Beach was born August 14, 1936 in New York City. His mother, Ethel McKinnon, came from Kingston, New York and his father, James H. Beach, was from Montserrat. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1946 where Beach attended William Pierce Elementary School, Gillespie Junior High School and studied art at Fleisher Art Memorial. Beach graduated from Simon Gratz High School in 1954 and earned his B.F.A. degree in advertising design from the University of the Arts in 1958. Beach also studied at L'Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and at L’Alliance Franciase, both in Paris.

He started Beach Advertising in 1974 and his clients have included Pfizer, John F. Rich and Company, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, McDonalds and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. In 1964, Beach was elected as the first African American president of the Artist Guild of Delaware Valley and he served in that capacity until 1967. Beach also joined the American Numismatic Association and founded the African American Commemorative Society (AACS). In 1970, he paired up with Calvin Massey and Robert L. Jefferson to start the fully illustrated African American Historical Calendar, which has been produced annually since.

A recipient of numerous awards including the Addy, Neographic, and Art Directors Club awards and a best of category award from Printing Industries of America, Beach participated in the White House Conferences on Small Businesses and is active with the Small Business Administration. He serves on the boards of the Alliance for Aging Research, the Philadelphia African American Museum, Historic Philadelphia, Inc., the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, the National Arthritis Foundation, the West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the University for the Arts. Beach, who has two adult sons, lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Mary.

Accession Number

A2005.047

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/11/2005

Last Name

Beach

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Simon Gratz High School

William Pierce Elementary School

Elizabeth Duane Gillespie Junior High School

University of the Arts

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

BEA05

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

All

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

All Seasons

Speaker Bureau Notes

Honorarium Specifics: $750-$1200 for half-day, plus travel and lodging expenses.
Preferred Audience: All

Sponsor

Lincoln Financial Group Foundation

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean, Paris, France

Favorite Quote

I'm Loving It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

8/14/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peas (Black-Eyed)

Short Description

Graphic artist and advertising chief executive George Beach (1936 - ) started Beach Advertising in 1974. He was the first African American president of the Artist Guild of Delaware Valley and has served on numerous other boards.

Employment

Beach Communications

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Beach's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Beach lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Beach describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Beach describes his mother's upbringing and her career

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Beach describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Beach talks about his father's immigration to New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Beach talks about how he takes after both of his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Beach describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Beach describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood in New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Beach talks about his childhood memories of growing up in New York, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - George Beach talks about the role of music in his childhood in Harlem, New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Beach talks about visiting Trinidad during his teenage years

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Beach describes his experiences at Public School 40 in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Beach describes his artistic interests during his time at William S. Peirce School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Beach talks about his siblings' differing attitudes towards education

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Beach describes his artistic interests at Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Beach describes his extracurricular activities at Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Beach describes his experiences at the Museum School of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Beach describes his experiences at the Museum School of Art in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Beach talks about his internship with Freed Studios, Inc. and winning a design contest his senior year of college

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Beach recalls the advertisements that he encountered during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Beach talks about the skills and traits that led to his success in advertising

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Beach talks about working as an apprentice at Freed Studios, Inc. in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Beach talks about opening his own studio as a design artist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the early 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Beach talks about his term as president of the Artists Guild of Delaware Valley

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Beach talks about how taking risks allowed him to grow his business during the 1960s

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Beach talks about how being an African American affected the course of his advertising career

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Beach talks about how he recruited members for the African-American Commemorative Society

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Beach talks about creating commemorative medals with the African-American Commemorative Society

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Beach talks about the value of the medal collection created by the African-American Commemorative Society

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Beach describes the black history calendars he produces with the African-American Commemorative Society

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Beach talks about his volunteer work with non-profit organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Beach talks about his reasons for researching the lives of early African American leaders

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Beach talks about some of his favorite stories from the African-American Commemorative Society calendar

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Beach describes his struggle to grow his business through working for major corporations

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Beach talks about his battle with rheumatoid arthritis

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Beach talks about some of the treatments that helped him recover from rheumatoid arthritis

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Beach talks about overcoming the prognosis that he would be confined to a wheelchair

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Beach talks about returning to painting after treatment for his rheumatoid arthritis

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Beach describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Beach reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Beach reflects upon his legacy, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Beach reflects upon his legacy, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Beach describes his family's thoughts about his career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Beach talks about his experience studying at the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere in Paris, France

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Beach describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Beach narrates his photographs, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Beach narrates his photographs, pt. 2

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$2

DAStory

4$9

DATitle
George Beach talks about opening his own studio as a design artist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the early 1960s
George Beach talks about his internship with Freed Studios, Inc. and winning a design contest his senior year of college
Transcript
Where did you go [after Freed Studios, Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]?$$In January of 1958, I walked six blocks from where we are and I got space in a studio called Cerotti Studios [ph.], and that was owned by Al Cerotti [ph.]. And the arrangement was that it would cost me fifteen dollars a month to be there. In his space, I had my drawing board, I had my telephone, and what my responsibility was, was to give him first preference for my time and talent, that I would respond to whatever his needs were prior to any accounts that was able to muster up for myself. In that first week or two that I was there, looking at the phone, hoping it would ring, I probably lost about eight pounds, but it was a tremendous experience, and from Cerotti, I was able to--after a year and a half, I was able to rent my own space at the Middle City Building [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], again, eight blocks from where we now sit, and that was a very, very wonderful experience to have my own studio.$$So this is in 1960 then, right? When you get your own studio?$$Yeah, 1959, 1960, um-hm.$$Okay. Now, what was the atmosphere here for black artists in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]? I know we've heard stories since we've been interviewing people in Philadelphia that make us think that this wasn't always Philadelphia, you know it was (laughter)--maybe it was Birmingham [Alabama] or something at one point and it became Philadelphia later, but it wasn't always great for black people in this city in terms of acceptance and so forth, but what was your experience?$$Well, my experience was really quite the opposite in a sense because what I was doing in music, I was playing music that everybody else played. I wasn't playing so-called black music or African American music. I was doing design like everybody else. There wasn't anything that was popular as, you know, black design or black art. That was not the big words in those days. So I was competing with everybody else, and I was very good because I worked hard at being good, and I had the gift of the talent that helped accelerate, you know, my ability to do good work. So when people looked at my work, it was like any--like my counterpart, and that's where I competed. I did things that were market general. There was nothing for the African American community or the Latino community or anything of that nature. That came along in the '70s [1970s], but through the '60s [1960s], I was very, very fortunate that I got busy. I mean, people kept me busy. And there was another thing that was very interesting. The Quakers here in Philadelphia were particularly sensitive to me, and one of the longest accounts I had during that time was from a Quaker run agency. It was called the John F. Rich Company [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], and I designed booklets for various campaigns. They did fundraising campaigns for various causes like Keuka College in [Keuka Park] New York, the Culver Military Academy [Culver, Indiana], the Einstein Institute [Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey] at Princeton [University, Princeton, New Jersey]. These were all top notch activities, the oncologic hospital here in Philadelphia, the Einstein Hospital [Einstein Medical Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], northern and southern divisions. So when I was doing my design for them, it was across the board like anybody else, but it was good. So that gave me a very good edge. As a matter of fact, it was the John F. Rich Company that allowed me to do my first ad. It was an ad for their company in the Trustee Magazine, which comes out of Chicago [Illinois]. I'll never forget it, to buy the media for the trustee and design the ad and send the materials to the publication for the John F. Rich Company. And that was an ongoing monthly ad; we did an ad a month. So that's how I really backed into the advertising business through my experience with the John F. Rich Company and others. I did a lot of work for the major advertising agencies and major companies.$$That's Rich, R-I-C-H (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) R-I-C-H, um-hm.$$Okay, out of Chicago, okay.$$No, they were out of Philadelphia (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) They were in Philadelphia, okay.$$--but the Trustee Magazine was out of Chicago.$$Okay.$After art school [Philadelphia Museum School of Art; The University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] I mean, what did you do next?$$It was very simple. I walked four--I walked six blocks and I got involved--I took space in a design studio and started doing design on a work space arrangement deal, and it was the first week I got out of school.$$Okay so you didn't waste (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) But I--$$You didn't waste any time (laughter).$$No, not at all. As a matter of fact, I can tell you this. I was in the first class of students that had internships, the first internships that were introduced at the school. It was myself, Jerry [J.] Siano, and [Gerald] Jerry Buckley; there were three students. Jerry Siano went to N.W. Ayer [& Son, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania], which was a large advertising agency here in Philadelphia [Pennsylvania], and he's always stayed in that discipline. He retired several years ago as chairman of the eleventh largest advertising agency in the world. Jerry Buckley went to N.W. Ayer, and he off and on worked inside, then he came outside, then he worked inside, but his whole career, spent it around N.W. Ayer and that advertising concept. My experience was with Freed Studios [Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. It was a design studio, and that was where my orientation was in my senior year at school. I went there on a daily basis and I took my degree courses on Saturdays, and the reason why it worked so well for me, Maurice Freed, who owned Freed Studios, he was chairman of the alumni association at the Museum College of Art. And I got an opportunity to get a jumpstart on my fellow classmates, because I was a professional in my senior year at school. And I could feel a little--I could feel a little rub from that as a matter of fact. Some of my teachers made comments to the effect that I want you to think more like a student as opposed to a professional. And I won a design prize for the first cover for the Academy of Music's [Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] annual ball, which is now in its--it was its hundredth anniversary nearly forty-five years ago. And after I won that award, it--and I'll tell you what it was, it was a hundred dollars and two tickets to the ball. And I--my mother [Ethel McKinnon Beach] was my date for that occasion and I--it was a white tie event and the dinner took place at the Bellevue-Stratford [Hotel; The Bellevue Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. There was a red carpet from the Bellevue-Stratford to the Academy of the Music, and my mother and I marched down this red carpet and we sat in the balcony in the first seats in the balcony dead on at the orchestra, so that was a wonderful experience. But what I felt--I felt a little, a few rubs while I was in school because I had won the prize as a, you know, African American person, and I felt that my work--as I began to show my work on the walls for critique, I was criticized a little more than I had been prior to winning that award, which got a lot of notice. So there were things like that that you could sense being in a environment that you were truly in the minority, and, in fact, very few people were in the field itself, so it was unusual to pursue the course of study that I did.