Signs of the Times: Larry Beer

Larry Beer Sign Shop Master Trade Specialist (Photo by Scott Kissell)

PEOPLE OF MUAM (Miami University Art Museum)

Sherri Krazl, Marketing/Communications Miami University Art Museum

Artist, Woodworker, Craftsman, Outdoorsman, Designer, Signmaker, Husband, Gardner, Father are all words that describe 1979 Miami Alumnus and Master Sign Specialist Larry Beer. But there is more to Larry, a staple in the Sign Shop since before they began using computers and digital printers, who joined the Miami team in 1990.

Larry and his colleague Paula Beherns produce and manage over a thousand annual requests for signage ranging from small plaques to huge banners and everything in between. This includes 175 boulevard banners across campus and the printing and installation of the signage throughout the galleries of the Art Museum.

One of his favorite aspects of the job is working to help Miami people meet their signage needs. “I like when I am able to do a job for somebody and it turns out right and they really like it and appreciate it. And I like going around and meeting with people and helping them solve their signage needs,” shared Larry.

When he was a student at Miami, Larry started studying forestry but then switched to Advertising Graphics studying under Professor Joe Cox.

When he graduated and got his first job in the field, computers were for typography; everything else was pen and ink. He did draft ads for magazines with marker renderings – it was all done with pen and ink. He also worked in photography and ran an enlarging camera that was 20 feet long, producing huge negatives. Larry recalls also working for a company in Dayton cutting and pasting copy for telephone books.

He joined Miami in 1990 when he and Sue Ann, his wife of 31 years, started a family. When their son Jonathan was born, Larry was seeking a job with benefits as he was in construction at the time.

Two of his favorite exhibitions at the Art Museum include Dennis Angel’s Metalpoint Drawings and the Buck Rogers Comic Book exhibition – the graphics were huge and high up – it was unusual and fun to do.

One of Larry’s drawings.

He creates his sign designs on the computer these days. However, he still goes back to the drawing board using colored pencils, charcoal and graphite to create his own drawings. Larry enjoys nature and animals, mostly birds—owls are his specialty. He creates his drawings from photos that he takes and uses to help craft the details. 

When asked if any particular artists’ work inspires him, he thought of Albrecht DÜrer a German artist from the early 1500s who’s work includes intricately detailed etchings and drawings of animals. Dürer was known by many as Natures Artist.

When not working at Miami, Larry enjoys touring historic sites and hanging out at home with his wife. He and Sue Ann love working in their garden, canning and preserving their crops. “We didn’t even plant green beans this year because we had so many from last year’s crop!”

Larry considers himself old fashioned and enjoys being self-sufficient growing a lot of his food, and recycling and reclaiming things. He appreciates woodworking, milling the wood himself. Larry is collecting logs for his retirement when he plans to make furniture.