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Bradbury Thompson

Bradbury Thompson, (1911–1995)

Goudy Award Winner 15, 1983

Bradbury Thompson has been quietly, but effectively, influencing the look of American graphic design for many years. His professional accomplishments range over the entire spectrum of printed material where he has functioned as designer, art director and typographer. Between 1939 and 1962 he designed fifty-nine issues of the Westvaco Inspirations series; each is a model of innovative layout and typography. Thompson's experiments with the Monoalphabet and Alphabet 26 show his concern with some of the confusion inherent in the mix of upper and lower case letterforms in our Roman alphabet. He has served as an art director for such magazines as Mademoiselle and design director for Art News and Art News Annual, he has designed over So U.S. postage stamps and is a member of the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee. He has been a consultant to some of the most prestigious companies in American business.

In recent years he has devoted much of his time to the design of books, drawing upon traditional sources for inspiration, while utilizing modern technology for their typography and production. He manages to effectively blend, for example, pictorial images from 18th and 19th century steel engravings with modern typographic treatments.

He was born and received his early education in Kansas and has been recognized and honored by his native state. He was named Kansan of the Year by the Topeka Capital-journal in 1979 and was presented the Distinguished Kansan Award by the Kansas Native Sons and Daughters Society in 1983. These awards have been augmented by many honors from his contemporaries in the graphic arts and typographic fields. Included among his many awards are the American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal Award, 1975, and a citation from AlGA for the design of the Washburn College Bible; election to the Hall of Fame, New York Art Directors Club, 1977; a citation of appreciation from the National Laymens Bible Committee for the design of the Washburn College Bible; the PIMNY Power of Print Award; and most recently, the addition of his name to the New York Printers Wall of Fame.

He received his AB degree from Washburn University in 1934. During the succeeding years he has contributed much to students in the graphic arts and their education by example, and directly as well. From 1956 to 1959 he was on the Board of Governors, Philadelphia College of Art, he has been a senior critic and visiting professor at Yale University since 1956 and a consultant to Harvard University, Cornell University and the Oxford University Press. He has received honorary degrees from Washburn University and Rhode Island School of Design. In 1973 he was named a trustee of Washburn University.

The three volume, lectern-size Washburn College Bible, designed by Bradbury Thompson and published in 1979, has presented a new approach typographically to the most printed book in the world. These elegant volumes are accompanied by screen-printed frontispiece designs by Joseph Albers and full color reproductions of religious paintings from the greatest art galleries in the western world.