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Positive Countertypes: Susan Kare

11/23/2011
by jen

Everyone knows who Steve Jobs is. But have you heard of Susan Kare? She is an artist and designer whose work helped to revolutionize the computing industry.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York called her, “a pioneering and influential computer iconographer.” Steve Silberman published a brilliant article on her work in digital font and GUI design, with images from her early sketchbook:

The Sketchbook of Susan Kare, the Artist Who Gave Computing a Human Face.

“…For the Mac, Kare designed the first digital font family that allowed text to breathe as naturally on the Mac’s white screen as it does in the pages of a book.”

and

 “…Kare stayed on at Apple to craft the navigational elements for Mac’s GUI. …In the pages of this sketchbook…she created the casual prototypes of a new, radically user-friendly face of computing — each square of graph paper representing a pixel on the screen.”

like this one:

Wow. We all – casual computer users, tech and design professionals– owe so much of what we have now to pioneers like Susan Kare.

This is just one of a million examples of how art & design touch everyday lives, and how a career in art & design can be as practical, productive, and useful as any other path. I present it as a Positive Countertype to the manic, erratic, starving artist stereotype we are spoon-fed in our culture.

You can buy a copy of her book, ICONS, and limited edition prints of some of her most famous designs on her website: http://www.kareprints.com/  (No one is paying me for this endorsement, I just like her stuff and want to promote good people and their work.)

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