CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — For over 40 years, one man designed the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts poster: Lanny Sommese.

“Lanny was a force of nature,” Rick Byrant, the festival’s executive director said. “He had a larger-than-life personality.” 

Sommese’s vibrant and colorful posters included motifs of jesters, musical instruments, and birds.

“Each one is really unique in its own right,” Bryant said. “He helped give us a sophisticated visual identity that we rely on today. Lots of festivals have posters, but I can’t think of a single one that has a poster designer who worked for them for 40 years.” 

His impact is felt on and off the paper.

“I think everybody who worked here at the festival would say that working with Lanny was one of the highlights of their career,” Bryant said.

Sommese passed on the passion to his children and the countless students he taught as head of Penn State University’s graphic design program.

Bryant said Sommese’s legacy lives on in the homes of many who hang his posters as mementos.

“People use them to commemorate the year they were graduated, when they got engaged, the first time they visited Penn State, or the first time they visited the festival,” Bryant said. “They really are a wonderful collectible.” 

Get daily updates on local news, weather and sports by signing up for the WTAJ Newsletter

In support of how Sommese has touched lives, his family asks that donations be made to the Lanny Sommese Foundation whose mission will be to continue his legacy of fostering excellence in design education and sharing his work so a wide audience can benefit from his vision and passion.

You can learn more about Lanny Sommese’s journey with art through his website Lanny Sommese Designs.