Toby Thompson - Memories, Observations, Experiences, Obsessions


Toby Thompson (1932 - 2012) was born in Kvinesdahl, Norway, emigrated to the US in 1934 and grew up in New York City. In 1950 he attended Brooklyn College and studied Liberal Arts. From 1952 to 1954, he was drafted into the US Army infantry and served in Berlin, Germany. He became a US citizen on Radio Free Europe. In 1954 he attended Fordham University, studying Liberal Arts. In 1955 he entered Syracuse University and graduated in 1959 with a bachelor's of industrial design (BID).

From 1956 to 1959, he formed a business partnership with fellow ex-GI, Miller/Thompson Design Associates. From 1960 to 1962, he was design director for Williamson Associates specializing in exhibit, interior and graphic design. From 1962 to 1968, he was principal of ES&J Art Inc., a design office specializing in three-dimensional design, graphic communication and illustration.

From 1968 to 1975, he was partner, president and treasurer of Thompson + Cook Design Group Inc. In 1968 he began his teaching career at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and was given the challenge of starting a degree-granting program in industrial design. In 1975 he received a master's in fine arts (MFA) from RIT. He was granted tenure and promoted to professor. From 1975 to 1996, Toby formed Design Etc., a sole proprietorship consulting design firm. His clients included Kodak, Xerox, General Motors, Honeywell and many others. Projects included World's Fair concepts for Montreal, New York and Seattle, dozens of international trade shows around the world.

Many completed projects received awards and were recorded in print in OmniElleThe New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. In 1985 he received the Kudos Award from the upstate New York Chapter of IDSA. The London BBC did a TV segment on his 1988 Olympic poster designs for Kodak.

In 1988 he was appointed chairman of industrial, interior and packaging design at RIT, a position he held until his retirement in 1996 after 28 years of teaching, and received the title of Professor Emeritus.

Group of students gathered around a table with graphic poster exhibition on walls in backdrop.
Framed graphic designs installed on gallery walls.

Exhibition installation

Professor Toby Thompson seated at table and instructing a student in the studio.

Professor Toby Thompson instructing a student in the studio.

Graphic design poser with text - Love More. Love is in multi colored hues overlaying More which is black on a black background.

Love More