Erik Nitsche


Swiss. Born 7 July 1908 in Lausanne, Switzerland. His family were commercial photographers. Studied at the Munich Kunstgewerbeschule.1926: studied under F.H. Ehmcke. 1930: worked in Cologne with Ehmcke. 1931: moved to Paris where he worked in the Draeger Freres agency. 1930-34: produced illustrations and political cartoons for the journals Vu, Simplicissmus and Querschnitt. 1934: emigrated to USA where he first worked in Hollywood before moving to New York. There he worked for Harpers Bazaar, Town and Country, and did covers for Fortune, Vanity Fair and House Beautiful among others. 1938: art director for Saks Fifth Avenue. 1941: art director of Air Tech and Air News, eventually designing memorable advertisements for General Dynamics which became his major client. For General Dynamics, Nitsche designed an exhibition at the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Geneva. 1947: Vice president of Dorland International, Germany’s largest advertising agency. 1949: art director of the journal Mademoiselle in New York. 1955-65: design director for General Dynamics Corporation. 1957-60: edited and designed the company history, Dynamic America. 1960s: moved to Geneva; founded ENI, SA (Erik Nitsche International), producing influential books using brilliant information design. After the financial collapse of ENI he moved to Paris. 1970s: moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut, where he continued to design books. Died 1998.

‘Whether he is considered a graphic design pioneer, a modern master, or simply a hardworking guy, he made more than his share of important contributions to poster, corporate, information, and, most notably, book design of the 20 th century.’ (Steve Heller, 2004; see below.)

Writings about

  • Steve Heller, ‘Erik Nitsche’, baseline, 2004, pp. 29-36.