“Making Orders: Dwiggins and the Paper Mills, 1912–1936”: A Lecture by Bruce Kennett

Saturday, October 13th, at 1:30 p.m.

W. A. Dwiggins (1880–1956) spent the latter decades of his life designing printing types, making books, and creating puppets and plays for his private marionette theater. However, in an earlier period of about twenty-five years, he produced a substantial body of work for a long list of paper mills and merchants, most of which were located in the Northeast. These advertisements and sample books exhibited Dwiggins’s manifold skills as a calligrapher, illustrator, colorist, maker of patterns, and writer. He was not only one of the first writers to use the term “graphic design” — he was also a pioneer in drawing what we now call infographics. But there’s another important aspect of the work: Always a teacher at heart, WAD saw these pieces as a means of guiding printers and designers toward best practices in printing illustrations and using color in unexpected ways.

Dwiggins' calligraphy and design

Bruce will present to us a broad selection of Dwiggins’s projects from this fertile quarter-century, drawing from the Museum of Printing’s own holdings, from the Boston Public Library, from his own private collection, and from the archives of S. D. Warren and Strathmore, McGill University, and Letterform Archive. PLEASE JOIN US ON OCTOBER 13th for a rollicking journey across this multi-colored landscape.

Bruce KennettBruce Kennett is a book designer, photographer, writer, and teacher. He studied calligraphy and book design in Austria with Friedrich Neugebauer and subsequently made the English translation of Neugebauer’s The Mystic Art of Written Forms. Bruce worked at Maine’s renowned Anthoensen Press during the 1980s, and since then has maintained his own studio in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where he designs illustrated books and exhibition graphics, and makes large photomurals. He has taught at the Center for Creative Imaging and Maine Media Workshops, and has lectured and written about Dwiggins since 1980. Bruce’s comprehensive biography, W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design (Letterform Archive, 2018) has been widely praised by reviewers; its publication was supported by backers in forty-three countries around the world. Copies will be available for sale on the 13th.

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