Archie Boston, Jr., Hon DDes

2024 Educators Hall of Fame Inductee

Graphic Artist & Professor

Recognized as one of the first African American art directors in the American advertising industry, Boston's work groundbreaking work challenged racial stereotypes in advertising. He taught for 32 years at California State University Long Beach, where he helped develop the Visual Communications Design program and serve as department chair for 12 terms.

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Archie Boston, Jr. was born in 1943, and his journey in the design world began in the tumultuous 1960s. During this era, the civil rights movement was in full swing, and Boston harnessed his creative talents to contribute to the cause. Boston’s career began as an intern at the Los Angeles-based advertising agency Carson/Roberts. He went on to work at various studios, including Hixson and Jorgensen Advertising in 1965, and in 1966 he became an art director at Botsford Ketchum In 1967, he co-founded the influential design firm Boston & Boston with his brother, Bradford. The agency, one of the first in the nation to be black-owned, marked a groundbreaking venture that blended artistic ingenuity with a profound social consciousness. Notably, In 1972, Boston received an Honorary Discharge from the California Army National Guard at the rank of First Lieutenant after seven years of mandatory service.

The 1970s and 1980s were a period of prolific creativity for Boston. After two years at Boston & Boston, Archie rejoined Botsford Ketchum, where he remained until 1977. At Botsford Ketchum, Boston worked on campaigns for Motorola, Raytheon, Yamaha, and Pentel, rounding out his advertising skills with copywriting, notably writing the headline for a Pentel ad, “I told Pentel what to do with their pens. And they did it.” In 1973, Boston founded Archie Boston Graphic Design.

Boston’s design work became a visual voice for social justice causes, reflecting the struggles and triumphs of marginalized communities.Notable among his creations during this period were iconic visuals that addressed pressing societal issues, using bold colors and evocative imagery to convey powerful messages. Boston’s designs resonated beyond the aesthetic realm, becoming a powerful tool for advocacy and a catalyst for social change.


In parallel with his successful design career, Boston’s commitment to education became increasingly evident. He began teaching at the age of 23 at Chouinard Art Institute and went on to teach for 32 years at California State University Long Beach. Boston helped to establish the design department that later became the Visual Communications Design program and served 12 terms as department chair. In 2004, California State University would name Boston Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Boston’s foray into education was marked by a unique philosophy that went beyond traditional design pedagogy. He believed in instilling in students not just technical skills but also a robust sense of purpose and social responsibility.

As an educator, Boston’s influence in the classroom was profound. His charismatic teaching style, coupled with a passion for fostering creativity, inspired countless students. He encouraged them to view design as a tool for positive change and urged them to leverage their skills to address societal challenges. Boston’s impact on the next generation of designers extended beyond the classroom, as his mentorship played a pivotal role in shaping the careers of many successful professionals in the field.

Boston’s influence extends beyond the classroom to the industry at large. In 1972, Boston was appointed President of the Art Director Club of Los Angeles, the second-largest in the nation, and was the first black president in the organization’s 28-year history.

Though retired from teaching, Boston will continue educating for generations to come. Boston has directed and produced two documentaries. 20 Outstanding Los Angeles Designers was a project undertaken in 1986 while on sabbatical from teaching, profiling icons from Saul Bass to Louis Danziger. In 2016, he made Black Pioneers of the Sunshine City, focusing on the history of segregation in his hometown, St. Petersburg, Florida. The film is regularly included in Black History Month programming as a celebration of civil rights activism. Boston is also a self-published author of two books, Fly in the Buttermilk: Memoirs of an African American in Advertising, Design, and Design Education is based on his experience being Black in design and academia. Lil’ Colored Rascals in the Sunshine City encompassed growing up in segregated St. Petersburg, Florida, in the 1940s and 1950s.

Archie Boston, Jr.’s exemplary contributions to design and education have not gone unnoticed. Throughout his illustrious career, he garnered numerous awards and accolades. The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) recognized his significant impact on the design landscape with the AIGA Medal in 2121, highlighting his role as a pioneer in using design for social justice. In 2022, The Royal College of Art conferred Boston with an honorary Doctorate for his exemplary work and impact. Boston’s work was showcased in prestigious exhibitions, solidifying his reputation as a designer whose creations transcended traditional boundaries.

Archie Boston, Jr.’s journey from the 1960s to the 2020s encapsulates a profound evolution in the worlds of design and education. His legacy is not merely a collection of awards and achievements but a narrative of a visionary designer who used his talents to advocate for social justice and pave the way for a more inclusive design industry. As we celebrate his brilliance in both design and education, Archie Boston, Jr. remains an enduring inspiration for aspiring creatives and educators alike, leaving an indelible mark on the vibrant tapestry of the creative world.