Doyald Young Master Typographer

If asked, “Please identify some great examples of typographic design experienced in your daily life?” Would you reply?

Regardless, there is no need for most of us to answer this question. It’s not as if we have any real problems navigating our way through hundreds of road signs legibly pronounced with tall letters adequately spaced to guarantee our eventual arrival—(Who am I kidding? That tireless voice on your navigation device will get you there regardless); or immediately solving an email crisis with a collection of caps and lower case—(indicating a mild mix of polite and not so polite sentences); or sifting through tens of thousands of news media pages flagged with color, type weight and size with intent to promote your full attention as objects move, videos play, sound creeps, advertisements clamor and millions of words dance before your eyes.

Ok, now breathe. Typography, no doubt, has become more of a science that quickly relays critical information. And in most cases, its beauty is stripped, compressed and simplified into digital bits. The elegance of typography—the craft of composing legible forms into a dance by a great master is a fine art. Sadly, Southern California master typographer Doyald Young recently passed away on February 28, 2011 in Sherman Oaks, CA at the young age of 84.

Fortunately, I met Doyald fourteen years ago at the AIGA San Diego Y Conference. Mr. Young was witty, kind and a well-read, typographic theologian who chose hand made typography over computer generated images trying hard to interpret classical letterforms. Mr. Young taught at Art Center in Pasadena for 30 years, self-published 3 monographs and created typographic solutions for the Tony Awards, The Golden Globes, Frank Sinatra (TV special in 1981), Elvis (MGM/UA), Bette Midler (Universal 2002) and corporate fonts for Sony, General Electric, John Deere and many more.

Doyald was originally from Holiday, Texas and left home at 15 to work as a bellhop, usher and railroad brakeman. In 1946 he began his long career in Los Angeles where he created advertisements and show cards for a five and dime store. In 1955 he began his long tenure teaching typography design at Art Center. Today, his teaching legacy is realized in thousands of designers, illustrators and filmmakers all over the country. Candice Lopez, professor of design at San Diego City College, is a wonderful example of Doyald’s passion of typography and inspiring young upstarts in design. Mr. Young was beloved in Southern California. He openly shared his craft, creative thirst for life and his charismatic heart-to-heart infusion at any design conference.

Doyald is a lifetime Design Medalist presented by the AIGA in 2009. Doyald chose Deanna Kulman to introduce him at the gala, as in his gentlemanly way quipped how he had to condense his life’s story into a speech four minutes or less. Doyald’s obituary mentions leaving no immediate family members behind. Not true, I can assure you, as each student, creative professional and friend moves forward in life with a bright light inspired by Doyald Young. Thank you Doyald! You will be greatly missed.

A wonderful tribute is planned in remembrance of Doyald Young at the Y16 conference at the Joan B Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice on March 24 in San Diego. Please click here for more information.

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