Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fletcher Roger Sliker: designer, baker, and coffee roaster

IDEA NO.54, 1962/8, Magazine Cover Design: Fletcher Roger Sliker.
© Seibundo Shinkosha Co., Ltd. all rights reserved. Used with permission.
“Celebration on the Grand #8” 1987 Poster, 22 inches x 34 inches. Design: Fletcher Roger Sliker. Signed bottom right—from the collection of David Versluis.

Recently, while doing research I came upon Fletcher Roger Sliker’s 1962 cover design for IDEA no.54, which was a magazine that featured advertising art. The content of this particular issue featured the following: Banking Image-Building, Graphic Design / Japan, House Style of Pirelli, Basic Training on Design, Paul Peter Piech, and Johannes Itten’s Art of Color.

The cover, which acts much like an artist’s poster, could be a section from a larger art piece. As Carlo Arturo Quintavalle has said about artist’s posters of the 1960s, “They do not pretend to be accessible to all viewers but simply to be a kind of monogram that only the initiated will understand.” Even though the two pieces are twenty-five years apart, they each show a consistent approach to assemblage. Each indicates a melding of word and image where type becomes picture and vice versa. Interestingly, the 1987 poster is publicly accessible, which is perhaps due to twenty-five years of viewers becoming more visually sophisticated.

Roger Sliker and I became acquainted around 1980 when I became interested in the products and corporate culture of Steelcase Inc. Sliker was the manager of graphic design for the company at the time, and he was very interested in the collage pieces in my portfolio. He suggested that I needed further experience and he thought my work had an affinity with the design of Armin Hofmann. He also suggested that I needed to read George Nelson’s thoughts about design. Sliker, always well read, is an astute cultural observer and we shared a common interest in Thomas Merton and kaleidoscopes. Roger was incredibly generous with his time.

Roger Sliker was a very important person in my design development and a role model. On an administrative level Roger always had a high place at the discussion table where his insights, critique, and counsel became very important project contributions. A graphic design colleague once proclaimed that Roger was “the poet laureate of Steelcase.”

Roger Sliker portrait and the Raging Sage store signage.

Roger vociferously managed design with class, integrity, wisdom, wit and humor but was uncompromising with project details, and maintaining impeccable design and print quality standards.

A memorable project for some of my former students at Trinity Christian College occurred in 1984 when I invited Roger Sliker, the corporate graphic design manager and Rick Valicenti, a Chicago designer to the college for a delightful and insightful discussion. The evening event coincided with an exhibition of graphic design from both Steelcase and Valicenti’s newly established design office.

In the late 1980s Sliker was selected as director of creative services for Apple, but by the early 1990s he was back at Steelcase as special assistant to board chairman, Mr. Robert Pew. During this period he served as a board member for the American Center for Design (ACD), based in Chicago. In 1998, Roger, along with family, founded the Raging Sage Coffee Roasters in Tucson, Arizona, which offers absolutely exceptional coffee, sage pecan scones, and other good things.


  1. Thank you for your heartfelt comments about Roger. He was an extraordinary man in so many multifaceted ways. Our family deeply appreciates your thoughts and recollections.

    Julie Sliker

  2. Julie,
    You're very welcome. Thank you for letting me know.


  3. Thank you for an endearing snapshot of Mr. Sliker whom we knew as "Fletcher" --- a thought-provoking and profound member of our Grant Road Improvement Project team.


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