Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Bradbury Thompson

Bradbury Thompson was born in Topeka, Kansas, and lived from 1911 to 1995. In 1934, he graduated from Washburn College, and designed their first mascot in 1937. He was the art director of Mademoiselle” from 1945 to 60, and designed Westvaco Inspirations for Printers from the 1930s to 62.

Alphabet 26

In 1958, Thomson began developing Alphabet 26, an attempt to streamline, simplify, and over all make the English alphabet more logically designed. According to Thomson, it is unreasonable for an alphabet of 26 letters to have 19 letters that change based on when they are upper or lowercase, and 7 where the upper and lowercase are identical. It is inconsistent, would not be accepted in other design, and makes it difficult for children to learn to read the language.

He also had issue with the similarities of some characters. “d,b,p, and q” are all very similar and often a point of confusion for children when first learning to read. The idea, in the end, would be a typeface with 26 distinct characters, specified as upper and lowercase by size.
Fonts have popped up, inspired by the original idea, such as “Mean 26”. Though this font is available in italics, where the “a” changes (a), which seems counterproductive to the initial idea.

Westvaco Inspirations

Westvaco Inspirations for Printers ran from 1925 to 62, with the purpose of demonstrating Westvaco Corporation's paper and printing process with design, photo, and fine art. Because of this, Thompson had a lot of creative freedom, needing to demonstrate several mediums and push what could be achieved on the paper. 

Bradbury Thompson had a very distinct style in his magazine design, where he made use of type and color in order to interact with the space in ways that were very unconventional at the time. His layouts make great use of bright, attention grabbing color and strong imagery. More often than not, type and characters are used as both imagery and information.

Other magazines, like Mademoiselle,” while showing strong signs of his design, show the limits of the cost of color and much less room for experimentation.

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