Rob Roy Kelly ’52
MCAD teaches design thanks to Rob Roy Kelly. After receiving his MFA degree from Yale, Kelly came right back to Minneapolis to found the country’s second-oldest Graphic Design program.
Kelly’s stamp is evident in American design even today.
Kelly treasured both past and future. He insisted the “space race” called for new kinds of design, but he was also an expert collector of historic wood type, publishing American Wood Type: 1828-1900 in 1969. He urged his students to find new inspiration anywhere, whether in antique printing forms or the cultures of other continents.
As a design professional, Kelly crafted lively works for Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater, including the original pennant-like Guthrie “G” logo. As an educator, he also led design programs at the Kansas City Art Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, Carnegie-Mellon, and Arizona State University.
Kelly was impressively thorough. He followed his interest in wood type into research on nineteenth century printing styles, and ultimately collaborated with the Adobe Corporation on converting wood type into digital fonts. His interests and influence came full circle.