Bradbury Thompson

Communication Arts said of Bradbury "When it came to the blending of photography, typography and color, nobody did it better than Bradbury Thompson... In his own quiet way, he expanded the boundaries of the printed page and influenced the design of a generation of art directors."

Bradbury Thompson


Bradbury Thompson

Thompson was born in Topeka, Kansas. He attended Washburn College and graduated in 1934. A facility called the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center now stands at Washburn University. In 1937, Thompson designed the college's mascot, "The Ichabod".

Thompson was art director of Mademoiselle magazine for fifteen years beginning in 1945.

Bradbury Thompson

A signature design from Thompson was his Washburn College Bible. This book was one of the first to use the Sabon typeface designed by Jan Tschichold and released in 1967.

Thompson was also an important designer of U.S. postage stamps throughout the middle decades of the 20th Century.

Bradbury Thompson

Thompson served on the faculty of Yale University. Thompson received the AIGA Gold Medal in 1975. He received the Type Director's Club Medal in 1986.

He died on November 1, 1995.

Bradbury Thompson

Alphabet 26

Thompson developed a font called Alphabet 26 or a "monoalphabet" - an alphabet where the uppercase and lowercase forms of each letter were identical, and case was expressed through the letter size only. (In the conventional Latin alphabet, this is already the case for letters like "o" and "O" or "s" and "S", but not for a/A, r/R, etc.) His monoalphabet was a transitional serif (modelled after Baskerville) with lowercase a, e, m, and n mixed with uppercase B, D, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, T, U, and Y. (The forms of C/c, O/o, S/s, V/v, W/w, X/x and Z/z are essentially the same in uppercase and lowercase letters to begin with). This simplification was intended to make the letters of the alphabet more logical and intuitive, and hence render the alphabet easier to learn and use. Thompson first published the alphabet in a Westvaco Inspirations for Printers.



The Art of Graphic Design: 30th Anniversary Edition 

The Art of Graphic Design: 30th Anniversary Edition by Bradbury Thompson (Author), Jessica Helfand (Afterword)//

A revered classic of American design delights anew with the freshness and ingenuity of its approach

Bradbury Thompson (1911–1995) remains one of the most admired and influential graphic designers of the twentieth century, having trained a generation of design students while on the faculty of the Yale School of Art for more than thirty years. The art director of Mademoiselle and design director of Art News and Art News Annual in the decades after World War II, Thompson was also a distinguished designer of limited-edition books, postage stamps, rationalized alphabets, corporate identification programs, trademarks, and sacred works (most notably the Washburn College Bible). Thompson also designed more than sixty issues of Westvaco Inspirations, a magazine that was published by the Westvaco Corporation and distributed to thousands of printers, designers, and teachers to show the range and versatility of printing papers. Thompson was especially revered for his ability to adapt classic typography for the modern world.

Bradbury Thompson: The Art of Graphic Design is a landmark in the history of fine bookmaking. First published by Yale University Press in 1988 and designed by Thompson himself, it was praised by the New York Times as a book in which “art and design are gloriously and daringly mixed.” Original texts by the author and other notable designers, critics, and art historians, including J. Carter Brown, Alvin Eisenman, and Steven Heller, explore Thompson’s methods and design philosophy, and a newly commissioned afterword by Jessica Helfand attests to the enduring importance of his work. Both a retrospective and a manifesto, the book surveys Thompson’s timeless contributions to American graphic design, including his experimental work and his work in magazines, typography, books, simplified alphabets, and contemporary postage stamps. Published for the first time in paperback, this classic text is now available for a new generation of designers and students.

2018 History Graphic Design

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