A 20th Century Giant
Born in 1911 in Topeka Kansas, Bradbury attended Washburn College graduating in 1934. He worked for Capper Publications for 4 years learning every aspect of printing production, he moved to New York city where for about 60 years he created some of the most influential designs of his time. Taking every graphic design opportunity he could by working for companies such as Mademoiselle magazine, Rogers Kellogg Stillson printing firm, and Westvaco Corporation. He eventually began teaching at Yale University where he stayed for many years.
A Better Way to Read
Only lowercase version
Same Upper and Lowercase
Though credited officially with more than 90 stamps of his own, he consulted with the US Postal Service in guiding the design of many others. Many of his designs became iconic snapshots of American history and cultures, including the famous “Learning never ends” stamp of 1980 with its colorful Josef Albers painting, and the irrepressibly jaunty "Love" stamp of 1984.
With Alphabet 26, Thompson proposed a simplified plan for representing the English alphabet after observing his own son experience difficulty recognizing the similarity between "Run" and "run" in "Run pal. See him run." Thompson believed then that his son became confused because of the change from a capital "R" to a lowercase "r" two different symbols that represent the same phonetic sound. Noting that the alphabet contained 19 other instances of dissimilar upper and lowercase symbols that slowed the reading process, Thompson set out to remedy this problem by simplifying the alphabet. Based upon his own theory that a graphic symbol must be consistent to be efficient, Thompson designed Alphabet 26 a font system made up of only 26 upper and lowercase characters typeset in Baskerville
As the designer of more than 60 issues of Westvaco Inspirations he reached many typographers, designers, and students. His ability to merge and blend modernist typographic organization with classic typefaces and historic illustrations, all seasoned with affectionate sentiment and impeccable taste.
Working within limited budgets, Thompson pioneered new ways of working with the four-color process plates and the type case. He combined these inventive print processes with modern art, photography, old engravings, and letterforms used as graphic elements, thereby expanding the boundaries of the printed page. His classic layouts and typography have been a model to other designers. Working with modest resources, he saw himself as teacher and guide.
A Teacher to All
National society of art directors of the year 1950
AIGA gold medal award 1975
Art directors hall of fame 1977
His Own Impact
Bradbury Thompson was a man of great achievement, who revolutionized design in such unique ways. He took things that ordinarily were used by so many people that their general design was always accepted and challenged that belief, from stamps, the alphabet and even the bible. He changed the social norm and made people see these items in a new light. His overlapping of colors and how shapes and images interact were key elements in his design and made such a difference to the world. Bradbury Thompson died in 1995 as one of the most genuinely admired and influential graphic designers of the 20th century.
Type can be a tool, a toy, and a Teacher; it can provide a means of livelihood, a hobby for relaxation, an intellectual stimulant, and spiritual satisfaction. An interest in type necessarily includes a zest for everyday life.