SIU Alumni Association To Honor Angeli As Distinguished Alumni
The SIU Alumni Association will honor Primo Angeli ’57, MFA ‘59, as the recipient of the 2016 SIU Distinguished Alumni Award for Cultural Impact.
Primo Angeli was born in the small town of West Frankfort, Ill. to Italian immigrant parents, Anacleto and Candida Angeli. He and his brother, Dino, called their father "the music man," as one of his many business enterprises was restoring and selling Wurlitzer jukeboxes. His father advised against a career in the arts telling him, "In 1913 on the boat coming to America an artist painted a portrait of me. I paid him ten cents - and he was happy! Son, don't do this!" Angeli, however, enrolled in Southern Illinois University as a fine arts major. After two breaks from school - one working at home and another serving in the U.S. Army - he returned to SIU in 1956, again majoring in art and ultimately completing a master’s degree.
Mentored in the vibrant arts community of SIU by Bauhaus masters, Harold Cohen and Buckminster Fuller, Angeli gained a command of printing, typography and communication in art. He set his sight on San Francisco as his "blank" canvas to start his own work. He set up shop with Dick Cole in Palo Alto, Calif. to get his bearings, but soon returned to San Francisco and absorbed the 1960's wave of high literature, poetry and politics. Here, Angeli developed one of the most successful branding, corporate identity and packaging firms in the country. In the three decades that followed, Angeli built an international reputation in the field of graphic design, specializing in design for marketing and communication but taking on numerous other kinds of projects. His firm was involved in branding, corporate identity, packaging, naming, and new media services. Work with local firms such as Boudin Bakery, Molinari & Sons, Banana Republic, Robert Mondavi Winery, and the Oakland Athletics was paired with national and international clients Ben & Jerry's, Coca-Cola, DHL, Guinness, General Mills, AT & T, Hyatt Hotels, and General Foods. Local officials sought out Angeli to develop celebratory posters for events, such as the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations, the 50th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Silver Anniversary of Grace Cathedral. Sports commissions soon arrived. In 1991 Angeli's design for a commemorative postage stamp was selected and issued by the U.S. Postal Service. For the 1996 Olympics, he contributed the environmental graphics, as well as the official poster for the games.
In early 2012 Angeli’s poster entry, “London Calling,” was among the finalists in the design competition to represent the United States in the London Olympic Games. Since 2012 Angeli has been associated with major San Francisco designer Ryan Herras. He lives in California with his wife, Deanie. Angeli has a current three year individual membership with the SIU Alumni Association.