Will H. Bradley

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Poster for The Chap Book, 1894

William H. Bradley (10 July 1868–1962) was an American Art Nouveau illustrator and artist. Nicknamed the "Dean of American Designers", he was the highest paid American artist of the early 20th century.

Biography[edit]

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and at the age of 12 he obtained a job as a printer for a weekly newspaper. He later left for Chicago, Illinois, where he held a few brief jobs as a wood engraver and typographer before dedicating himself to freelance graphic design. He moved back to Massachusetts and set up the Wayside Press, where he served as an illustrator, editor, typographer, designer, and press manager for a periodical aptly named Bradley: His Book. The periodical usually contained compilations of poetry, stories, and sketches, and his work received a warm reception. He had achieved financial success, but the stress of managing so many projects at once began to damage his health, and he collapsed at the age of 28. He recovered quickly, but he was forced to sell the Wayside Press. He later worked as a consultant for the American Type Founders and as an editor for Collier's Weekly. He worked briefly with children’s books, then for William Randolph Hearst’s film division as a set designer. In 1954, Bradley published a memoir of his life, called Bradley: His Chap Book, though only 650 copies were ever published. The same year, he won the AIGA award, the highest honor for graphic designers. He was a prolific artist and designer up until his death at age 94.

Artistic style[edit]

His artistic style is considered a branch of Art Nouveau, (where he was considered the foremost illustrator and poster designer of this movement)[1] though it draws heavily from the aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement and Japanese block printing. His work was often compared to that of his English contemporary, Aubrey Beardsley, so much so that some critics dismissed him as simply “The American Beardsley.” Bradley was already an established artist by the time Beardsley’s designs became popular in England in 1894. Bradley's primary medium was posters, at the time a developing art form. Poster art was pioneered at the turn of the century by French artists like Jules Chéret and Toulouse-Lautrec, but Bradley is credited with popularizing the two-dimensional poster style in the United States.

Typefaces[edit]

Though Bradley, evidently, did not do the actual cutting of type matrixes, many types were based on his designs.

Writings[edit]

  • Will Bradley:His Chapbook The Typohiles 1955 ASIN B0013090XK

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alastair Duncan, Art Nouveau page 100,Thames & Hudson,London,1994 ISBN 0-500-20273-7

References[edit]

  • Rollins, Carl Purlington American Type Designers and Their Work. in Print, V. 4, #1.
  • MacGrew, Mac, "American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century," Oak Knoll Books, New Castle Delaware, 1993, ISBN 0-938768-34-4.
  • Friedl, Ott, and Stein, Typography: an Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Throughout History. Black Dog & Levinthal Publishers: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bambace, Anthony, Will H. Bradley: His Work: A Biliographical Guide OakKnoll Press USA 1995 ISBN 1-884718-08-6
  • Koch, Robert. (2002). Will H. Bradley: An American Artist in Print. Manchester, Vermont: Hudson Hills Press LLC. ISBN 1-55595-224-0.
  • Johnson, Diane Chalmers. (1979). American Art Nouveau. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-0678-3
  • Wong, Roberta. (1972). Bradley: American Artist and Crafstman. New York

External links[edit]