January 13, 2023

Hello, LA: Clive Piercy, Inside the Mind of a Designer

A loving portrait of a cherished Los Angeles designer, author and educator

March 9, 2023 through June 24, 2023

On view at the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery

Opening Reception: March 9, 2023 from 6–8 p.m.

“It’s funny how often an artist comes to a city from somewhere else and ends up representing that place more than a homegrown one does. In LA’s case that’s certainly true.” –Clive Piercy

ArtCenter Exhibitions is pleased to announce Hello, LA, a timely exhibition that surveys the work of renowned designer, author and educator Clive Piercy (1955-2017). With an unparalleled career spanning 40 years in London and Los Angeles, Piercy developed a signature design style marked by radical uses of typography, and the humorous and rigorous blending of British and American design, all with an Angeleno flair. Known for a dedication to craft, as well as to the ethics and aesthetics of graphic design, Piercy was a beloved figure whose work has resonated globally.

Curated by Ann Field, Piercy’s wife, collaborator and celebrated illustrator/curator; Denise Gonzalez Crisp, renowned professor of graphic design, and member of Piercy’s firm Ph.D; and Greg Turpan, founder of the legendary home goods store Turpan, this exhibition offers an unparalleled glimpse into Piercy’s mind and work, with all its openness and optimism for humanity. An immersive experience comprising examples of Piercy’s most groundbreaking designs, Hello, LA captures Piercy’s whimsy and seriousness, as well as his love for color and the built landscape of Los Angeles. Featuring a variety of media, from framed objects, projections, print, books and installations, both out of scale and true scale, Hello, LA reveals the juxtaposition of thoughts, visuals and ideas that exist inside the mind of the designer.

Fashion designer Paul Smith has said of Piercy, “Clive was a truly exceptional person. His own work was so accomplished and full of wit. He was extraordinarily well-informed and aware of all forms of graphic design and illustration from current times and from the past.” Similarly, American designer and principal of the design firm Pentagram, Paula Scher notes Piercy’s “keen vision, especially about LA. I think it may have taken a British expat to have such clear eyes about the left coast.” She goes on, “He taught me to see Los Angeles.”

Born in Cheltenham, England in 1955, Piercy decided at age 11 that he wanted to be a graphic designer when he was entranced by English pop artist Peter Blake’s iconic cover for the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. He was also inspired by graphic designer Milton Glaser’s covers for the New Oxford Shakespeare series, setting in motion a lifelong love of books and words. After studying and working in graphic design in the UK, Piercy emigrated to the United States in 1982 with Field, and they settled in Santa Monica. Piercy would go on to embark on numerous important projects and found the design and communications firms Ph.D and air conditioned. Throughout his storied career, Piercy’s interests and collaborations were as vast and interdisciplinary as he was: the 2011 exhibition California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way" the cover design for Elton John’s Too Low for Zero, the book design for Curb Your Enthusiasm, the brand design for the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and imagery for David Fincher’s film Se7en. Piercy was also nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package and a James Beard Award for Restaurant Design. His celebrated book Pretty Vacant: The Los Angeles Dingbat Observed, which celebrates the vernacular Southern California stucco apartments known as dingbats, was published by Chronicle Books in 2003. Piercy was named a fellow of the American Institute of Graphic Arts in 2009.

A longtime professor at ArtCenter College of Design, Piercy influenced a generation of students, and has said, “There are plenty of designers in the world; we are doing perfectly well without you. But what there is a true lack of is great graphic designers. So that is your obligation if you are in this class, to be great. And the greatest thing you can do as a designer is have work that is representative of your character, that reflects who you are, that is a manifestation of your taste.”

The exhibit identity was designed by Part and Parcel and is accompanied by an illustrated catalog, featuring essays by Sean Adams, department chair of graphic design, ArtCenter College of Design, and co-curator Denise Gonzalez Crisp, design critic and professor of graphic design at North Carolina State University College of Design.

Public Programs: 

Quiksilver and Roxy: Branding, Design and Surf Culture 
Saturday, March 11, 1–3 p.m.
More info here.

Colby Broadsided Workshop
Saturday, March 18, 1–3 p.m.
More info here.

Googie Culture and the Los Angeles Dingbat
Saturday, March 25, 1–3 p.m.
More info here.

Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery
ArtCenter College of Design
1700 Lida Street, Pasadena, Calif. 91103

Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery Hours:
Wednesday to Saturday, 12 p.m. through 5 p.m.

About Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery: The Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery has established a broad reputation for exploring the intersection of science and art. Through a nearly three-decade series of programs and exhibitions, it has contributed to the emergence of an international movement among universities, journals, conferences, artistic studio practices and design strategies that promotes an intensified collaboration between the humanities and sciences.

About ArtCenter Exhibitions: ArtCenter Exhibitions is a program of public-facing curated spaces. Our programs seek to ignite emotional resonance, provoke intellectual dissonance and conjure unexpected pathways of thinking by connecting art and design with the social, scientific, humanitarian and poetic dimensions of our time. Galleries include the Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery at the College’s Hillside Campus, Peter and Merle Mullin Gallery at its South Campus and ArtCenter DTLA in downtown Los Angeles. Additional curated spaces include the Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography Gallery (HMCT) and Hutto-Patterson Exhibition Hall located at ArtCenter's South Campus, as well as the Hillside Campus Student Gallery.

About ArtCenter: Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate degrees in a wide variety of art and design disciplines. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves the general public through a highly regarded series of year-round online and on campus extension programs for all levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.


Teri Bond
Media Relations Director
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2385 office

Emily Logan
Public Relations Specialist
ArtCenter College of Design
626 396-2206 office

Roxy advertising campaign, creative direction by Clive Piercy.

Black and white portrait of Clive Piercy by photographer Ron Slenzak.

Portrait of Clive Piercy.