Monday, May 12, 2014

Timely Tutoring in Topics, Tastes and Trends of Typography from Bradbury Thompson

Westvaco Inspirations for Printers may be one of the most influential and highly prized series of paper promotions ever produced in the 20th century. The leaders at Westvaco, formerly named the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company, believed their paper promotions should be an educational living record of advertising design and commercial art. What they often produced was something so entirely modern, that many issues still look contemporary seven decades later. Bradbury Thompson (1911-1995) was a key figure in their success. Beginning in 1939, he was responsible for the design and art direction of over sixty of the Westvaco Inspirations issues. Undaunted by minimal resources and budgets, he sourced out historic, public domain images and combined them with modernist effects. He relied on classic typography for the most part, but once went so far as to design a conceptual version of an U&lc alphabet he called Alphabet 26 which premiered in Westavaco Insprirations No. 180 in 1950. One of Thompsons' seldom seen art direction triumphs, issue No.129, is available here. This 16 page issue from 1941 is "A Primer of Typography, Including Timely Tutoring in Topics, Tastes and Trends." Thompson personally designed the front, back and 1st page spread. Other contributors were Charles Sheeler and Stow Wengenroth.

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