Designing Minds: Tony Spagnola ’72

As principal of Spagnola & Associates in Brooklyn, N.Y., Spagnola specializes in architectural signage, exhibits, and other forms of graphic design, from corporate identity to print work. Drawing upon the elements of three-dimensional branding—signs, interactive exhibits, interior design—he and his firm help his clients communicate both practical information and deeper messages of identity, following their philosophy that “good design lasts.” Spagnola’s work has won numerous awards, including three from the prestigious American Institute of Graphic Arts.

Education: B.F.A.
(Graphic Design), Rhode Island School of Design

Examples of his work: The Ruesterholz Admissions Center (among other projects) at Stevens Institute of Technology; at Yale University, the exhibit design of the Visitor Center, the graphics for Ingall’s Rink (including the ceiling banners that indicate when each school first played Yale), and a comprehensive signage program for two new residential colleges.

Favorite places on campus: 
“My room, my senior year at Ford: a single room big enough for me to have a large drawing table, which signified what I was going to do my whole life. I spent many hours drawing in that room. I also spent many hours at the art center. Barry Moser commissioned me to do a mural on the wall there, which was a big deal to me. The old library was also important. It had a very comfortable back room, and there were all of the magazines about art. I would go monthly and spend hours looking at Marisol or Siegel and Warhol— it was the first time I had ever laid eyes on something like this. I knew at that point I wanted to make things.”

In his own words: “There’s a quotation by Jonathan Swift, and it’s one of my favorites: ‘Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.’ I take my clients to a dark hole and they jump in with me. And if they believe in me and I take them step by step, I usually come out with what we all expect.”

For more: