Dave Salanitro

Dave Salanitro (born November 16, 1963, in San Francisco, California) is an American graphic designer, writer, and educator with roots in architecture, the fine arts, and publishing. He founded and was Chief Creative Officer of San Francisco design firm Oh Boy, A Design Company, and created Oh Boy Artifacts, a line of notebooks, gift wrap, and other paper products.
Salanitro holds 245 commendations for design excellence, among them, highest honors in the Mead, Potlatch, and Black Book AR100 annual report shows. He took home five of the seven top commendations at the San Francisco Ad Club’s San Francisco Show in 2000, among them Best in Show, the Gold, and the Silver awards. Salanitro has thrice been named as among the Nation’s Top 50 Designers to Watch by Graphic Design USA. He is the recipient of the National Silver ADDY for Oh Boy Artifacts, for which he was also awarded 10 Best in Show Honors—including Best New Collection at Oh Boy Artifacts' New York debut, and two more at its London debut. His work has been featured in 116 national and international dailies, periodicals, and volumes. It is included in the permanent collection of the Denver Art Museum.
Salanitro attended California State University, Fresno and Fresno Pacific University.
Art and Architecture
Salanitro finished his sixth semester at Fresno State University, and continued working for his father, drafting construction drawings for restaurant interiors. In 1987, he parlayed an internship with the Fresno Art Museum into a full time position as Preprator; within a year he was promoted to the rank of Designer of Exhibitions and given governance over the galleries, collaborating with the executive director when the museum curated unique exhibitions. It was in this capacity that Salanitro designed his first book, The DEJUNA Set accompanied a June Wayne retrospective of more than one-hundred of the prominent Los Angeles artist’s tapestries, paintings, and lithographs curated by the museum.
In 1989, San Francisco's Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) office hired Salanitro to work on the renovation of the landmark Palace Hotel. He worked as an architect in San Francisco for four years before turning to graphic design.
Salanitro officially started his career as a graphic designer first learning the basics working in production Publish magazine. It made sense. He was promoted to designer at Publish only to be fired for a “lack of sound understanding of graphic design.”
He opened the doors to his own enterprise in June of 1994.
Oh Boy, A Design Company
Salanitro founded Oh Boy, A Design Company in June of 1994. It’s first self-promotion, sent to a list of about 650 prospects who knew the firm nor Salanitro at all, returned 106 requests for proposals and ultimately 47 projects; the firm grossed just shy of $300,000 in its first full year of business.
The firm rapidly out grew Salanitro’s living room. He took up proper office space and added three full-time employees in October 1995.
By December 1997, the firm had moved again, expanded its staff to 10, and grossed more than $2 million dollars. magazine named Oh Boy one of "Seven Red-Hot Firms to Watch," the article cited Salanitro’s “keen business sense, forthright manner, and outright chutzpah” as responsible for “catapulting the agency into the big leagues of the competitive San Francisco design market.”
Salanitro had become a popular speaker at industry-related events. He was often invited to speak at regional AIGA chapters and spoke at three successive HOW Design Conferences. He lectured at University of San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, among other academic venues advocating a broader academic curriculum for graphic designers, and was frequently asked to adjudicate for respected award shows.
Steven Heller interviewed Salanitro for his book, The Education of a Design Entrepreneur, in which Salanitro laments the demise of the designer as tastemaker and says he is reclaiming the designation with his new venture, Oh Boy Artifacts.
Oh Boy Artifacts
In February 2001, Salanitro, and recently minted partner Ted Bluey, premiered Oh Boy Artifacts, a line of products they had conceived of as an annex to the studio. At its height, the products were sold in hundreds of stores internationally, were frequently featured in magazines, and received nods from Martha Stewart and other tastemakers. In addition to its flagship product, the Oh Boy notebook, Salanitro and Bluey created unique form factors for books of gift wrap, greeting cards, and self-sealing stationery.
Salanitro, the agency, and Oh Boy Artifacts had achieved international recognition. The agency had opened a second office in Manhattan; revenues were purportedly in excess of $3.5 million-per-annum, and its client list was just shy of 100.
magazine published Salanitro’s tell for the health of the economy. Salanitro said he kept an eye on the classifieds, explaining that construction was a major indicator of a recession and when there were no want ads for architects you might start worrying. “There’s still hope,” he said. A month after the magazine hit the newsstands Oh Boy’s New York office closed. The San Francisco office shut its doors in July of 2002.
In 2004, Salanitro granted exclusive license to design and sell products under the Artifacts brand to Chronicle Books. He took on clients freelance, and lectured and mentored occasionally at Academy of Art University.
Rights to Oh Boy Artifacts reverted to Salanitro in 2016. Salanitro is currently working toward a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, with the brand is slated to relaunch late in 2017.
Salanitro's client list includes Adobe, Baan, Bank of America, BRE Properties, Cadence, Charles Schwab, Gap Inc., Intel, John Hancock, Mohawk Fine Papers, Orgel Wealth Management, Plantronics, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Robertson-Ceco, SFMOMA, Smith & Hawken, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and Wells Fargo among others.

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