W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design
Often credited with inventing the term "graphic design," W. A. Dwiggins was a quintessential maker — fabricating his own tools, inventing techniques, and experimenting with design in areas as wide-ranging as modular ornament, stamps, currency, books, kites, marionettes, and theatrical sets and lighting. More than any of his contemporaries, he united the full range of applied arts into a single profession — designer. Despite this, a thorough study of Dwiggins has never been published. Until now.
W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design offers an engaging and inspiring overview of the designer’s wide-ranging creative output and lasting impact on the graphic arts. Bruce Kennett’s careful research, warm prose, and inclusion of numerous personal accounts from Dwiggins’s friends and contemporaries portray not only a brilliant designer, but a truly likable character.
Publisher: Letterform Archive
Publication date: February 2018
Size: 9 × 11 × 1.25 inches
Weight: 4.8 lbs
Page count: 496 including endnotes and index
Illustrations: Over 1,200
Printing: Full-color stochastic screening on acid-free Sappi Opus paper in Maine, USA
Binding: Hardcover, Smythsewn, bound in Boston, USA
Praise for W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design
“A book to spend a year with. This book is many things, but most of all it is proof positive that if there is any doubt about the origin theory of graphic design, Dwiggins did more to promote, diversify, and integrate the graphic, typographic, and printing-arts disciplines than anyone of his generation.” — Steven Heller, author, art director, and design historian
“One of the many strengths of this book is that it deals both with Dwiggins’s familiar typefaces — Metro, Electra, Caledonia — and with his less well-known types, illustrated with drawings or trial cuttings. The result is the most complete conspectus we have of an extraordinary variety of type designs, and an appreciation of Dwiggins’s virtuosity in full flower.” — Matthew Carter, type designer
“To call W. A. Dwiggins a consummate American type designer, calligrapher, book designer, and illustrator is just to get started. Gifted with a superb literary sensibility and a flair for the dramatic, he wrote plays, stories, and crafted marionettes in a theater of his own devising […]. Bruce Kennett has brought Dwiggins to life in this impeccably written and designed biography.” — Carl Rollyson, biographer of Susan Sontag, Thurgood Marshall, and Rebecca West, among others
“Dwiggins’s radical explorations in marionette theater stand even today as a remarkable contribution to the field. Puppeteers and puppet-interested audiences around the world will be excited and inspired by Kennett’s perceptive analysis of Dwiggins’s essential puppet modernism.” — John Bell, puppeteer and theater historian
“W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design reminds us that living is an art. Bruce Kennett has written and designed a highly satisfying account of the life of the graphic artist and designer that fuses the life and work in a way that Dwiggins himself would have appreciated.” — Stephen Enniss, Director, Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin
About the Author and Designer
Bruce Kennett is a designer of books and exhibits, photographer, writer, and teacher. He studied calligraphy and book design with Austrian artist Friedrich Neugebauer, and later translated Neugebauer’s book The Mystic Art of Written Forms. Kennett also served as manager and book designer at Maine’s Anthoensen Press. His client list ranges from the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Grolier Club to L.L.Bean and the Mount Washington Observatory.