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Burton Kramer collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: CSC-0079

Scope and Contents

The collection is divided into two series: Clients and Bibliographic records. The Clients series makes up the bulk of the collection. Consisting of samples of work produced by Kramer Design Associates, it offers some thirty years of coverage, emphasizing the late 1960s to late 1990s. Records include brochures, letterhead, reports, and directories. Previous professional work created for Geigy Chemicals and Swiss agency Erwin Halpern Advertising is also represented, with examples of work for Modissa, Therma, Erle ZF, Spindel, and Derbystar. These records contain advertisement tear sheets and posters.

Coverage of Canadian work is broad and encompasses graphics and visual identity programs for dozens of companies including the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, North American Life, and the Royal Ontario Museum. Canadian government ministries and departments were also frequent clients. Examples include the Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce (brochures, reports, and directories) and the Ontario Educational Communications Authority (OECA). Records for the OECA include Operation Moonvigil, a simulation game created in 1971 for students in grades five through nine. Although the collection focuses on Kramer’s work in Canada, coverage of his lauded designs for Expo ‟67 is limited to a journal article, photostat of pictograms, and a few digital images [see folder 10.8].

Other types of records included in this series: posters and broadsides, promotional objects, and design manuals. Notable posters include those created for the Art Gallery of Ontario, Royal Ontario Museum, and Modissa. Promotional objects include examples of packaging for Noma Lites, buttons for numerous clients, clothing (t-shirts, ties, and scarf), and paper weights for Reed Paper and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Design manual materials range from logo reproduction sheets to complete manuals, and include those created for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Hospital for Sick Children, and OECA.

Bibliographic records contain writings by and about Kramer, and a small amount of exhibition documentation (brochures and exhibit panels). Holiday broadsides created for the Halpern Agency, as well as Paul Arthur, and his own Kramer Design Associates, are also included in this series.


  • Creation: circa 1957-2008, undated


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical / Historical

“That design is far more than an interesting way to earn a living, that design is an attitude, a way of life, a passion, a habit, a challenge, and incurable disease, for some a religion, and often a source of great joy.”1

Educated at the Art Institute of Chicago, Yale University, and the Royal College of Art in London, Burton Kramer began as a graphic designer in the late 1950's for Will Burtin in New York City working on Upjohn’s Cell exhibit. Within a few years, he moved to Switzerland to work with Gottfried Honegger at Geigy Chemicals, and then as chief designer for the Erwin Halpern Agency. There, he earned notice for his work with such clients as Modissa, Derbystar, and Therma.

In 1965, he moved to Canada and created graphics and signage for Expo 67 with Paul Arthur + Associates before setting up his own firm, Burton Kramer Associates (later, Kramer Design Associates). Early clients included Clairtone, The Royal Ontario Museum, Shell Canada, Reed Paper, and Canadian government agency, Ontario Educational Communications Authority (OECA). At this time, Kramer was a pioneer in promoting the International Style and the use of Helvetica in Canada.

Although best known for his visual identity design for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (“exploding C” logo), Kramer’s work is prevalent all over Toronto, including the Eaton Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, Union Station, St. Lawrence Centre, and Copps Coliseum. Beginning in 1978, he taught Typography and Corporate Identity Design for 21 years at Ontario College of Art and Design.

Kramer has received many honors. In 1974 he became one of the first Canadian designers to be a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale. He has also received The Order of Ontario (2002), and has been recognized in Canadian Who's Who, Contemporary Designers, and Who's Who in Graphic Design.

1 Kramer, Burton. From “Communication Design Education at the Ontario College of Art: The Teaching of Professors Burton Kramer and Keith Rushton in Toronto, Canada,” IDEA 192, September, 1985, page 69.


12.4 Linear Feet (11 manuscript boxes, 6 oversize boxes, 1 map drawer)




Collection of materials from graphic designer Burton Kramer. Includes extensive client publications: advertisements, posters, letterhead, brochures, and reports, mainly from his firm Kramer Design Associates in Toronto, Canada.


The collection is arranged in two series: Series I. Clients, circa 1957-2002, undated; and Series II. Bibliographic records, circa 1958-2008.

Physical Location

Graphic Design Archives, Cary Collection Annex

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Burton Kramer collection was donated to Rochester Institute of Technology in February, 2008 by Burton Kramer.

RIT Archives

Corporate Design Manual. Concept, text and design by Burton Kramer Associates.

Toronto: Ontario Educational Communications Authority, 1974.

Located in RIT Archives, The Wallace Center. Call # Rare T324 .O582 1974.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Amy Vilz, May 2011

Finding aid encoded by Megan Moltrup, February 2012

Burton Kramer collection
Ready To Publish
Cary Graphic Design Archives
Megan Moltrup
15 February 2012
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection Repository

Rochester NY 14623 US
(585) 475-2408