Will Burtin

Biography

Designer, industrial designer. Born 27 January 1908 in Cologne. 1922-7: trained as printer and typographer in Cologne; attended evening classes at the Werkschule. 1927-30: taught type design and illustration at the Cologne Werkschule. 1927: founded his exhibition design studio. 1930-38: worked in graphics and exhibition display. 1938: left for USA where he set up a design studio. 1939-43: on faculty at Pratt Institute; designed for the journals Time, Life, Fortune and The Architectural Forum. 1939-40: planned and directed his first significant job in the USA, the Federal Works Agency Exhibition, New York. 1943-5: joined the US Air Force and, later, the Office of Strategic Services for which he designed manuals and graphic presentations. 1945-9: art director, Fortune magazine. 1946-7: lecturer at Black Mountain College and Pratt Institute. 1948: designed the exhibition ‘Integration – a new discipline in design’ (opened in the A-D Gallery, New York, then toured) ; head of American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York. From 1949: opened studio for visual research and design. 1948-62: general design consultant for Upjohn Co. and art director of its company journal Scope. Also designed for Architectural Forum, Life, Hermann Miller, IBM, Smithsonian Institution, Union Carbide, Herman Miller Furniture. 1950s: lectured at Parsons School of Design, New York. 1955, 1956: Program chairman, Aspen Design Conference; 1957: chairman, International Planning Committee. 1958: chairman first world seminar on typography and design at Silvermine. 1959-72: professor of design, and chairman of Dept. of Visual Communication at Pratt Institute. Designed posters, catalogues, exhibitions . He was a member of the New York Art Directors Club, American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York Type Directors Club, Alliance Graphique Internationale (President, American Chapter). New York Art Directors Club medals, 1941, 1955, 1958; Gold medal award American Medical Association, 1958; AIGA gold medalist, 1971. Died 18 January 1972 in New York.

Writings by

    ‘Interrelations’ (on graphic presentation) (with L.P. Lessing), Graphis 22, 1948, pp. 108-17, 187-8 ‘Integration, the new discipline in design’ (linking art and science), Graphis 27, 1949, pp. 230-37, 285, 293-6
  • ‘Burtin and Upjohn’, Print, May/June 1955, pp. 36-60
  • ‘Aspen Design Conference, 1956’, Graphis 67, 1956, pp. 366, 372, 460-62, 464 ‘The means and ends of package designing’, Graphis 85, 1959, pp. 392-403, 462, 463
  • ‘The Task of Design’, Print, Jan./Feb. 1960, pp. 70-71
  • ‘The challenge of science to visual design’ (Upjohn project, 1957), New Graphic Design, Sept. 1960, pp. 44-8
  • ‘On corporate images’, Graphis 104, 1962, pp. 630, 633
  • The visual aspects of science (with others), Upjohn, 1964
  • ‘Armin Hofmann’, Graphis 148, 1970/71, pp. 110-21, 178.
  • Walter Amstutz (ed.), Who’s Who in Graphic Art, Zurich: Amstutz & Herdeg Graphis Press, 1962. , 1962

Writings about

  • (biography), Schweizer Graphische Mitteilungen (journal), to 1951. See also Typographische Monatsblätter . , Oct. 1948, p. 433
  • William B. McDonald, ‘The Upjohn Company’, Graphis 39, 1952, pp. 30-35, 94
  • Modern Publicity 1953-4, 1953, p. 98
  • (opening address, International Design Conference, Aspen), Print, July/Aug 1955, pp. 8, 64
  • (on developing individual creativity), Print, May/June 1958, p. 54
  • Herbert Spencer, ‘The first International Conference on Typography, USA’, Graphis 80, 1958, pp. 546, 549
  • brief biography, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Feb. 1954, p. 55
  • Print, Jan./Feb. 1964, pp. 71-2 (Typography – USA’ seminar)
  • Margit Staber, ‘Icograda’ (first Congress, Zurich), Graphis 116, 1964, pp. 518-19 F.H.K. Henrion, ‘Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI). Retrospective show in New York’, Graphis 129, 1967, pp. 66-75, 90, 92
  • Idea, 1970
  • F.H.K. Henrion, ‘Will Burtin’ (obituary), TypoGraphic, no. 1, [1972], p. 2 ‘Obituary: Will Burtin’, Graphis 157, 1972, pp. 514-15 ‘Will Burtin memorial exhibition’ (U.S. Embassy, London), TypoGraphic, no. 1, [1972], pp. 3-4
  • R. Roger Remington and Barbara J. Hodik, Nine Pioneers in American graphic design, London and Cambridge, MA.: MIT Press, 1972, pp. 104-19
  • R. R. Remington and B. J. Hodik, Nine Pioneers in American Graphic Design, Cambridge, MA/London: MIT, 1989
  • Meggs, 1998
  • R. R. Remington, ‘Interpreter of complexity’, Graphics International, Feb. 2002, pp. 30-31
  • R.R. Remington and R.S.P. Fripp, Design and Science: The life and work of Will Burtin, Aldershot, UK: Lund Humphries, 2007
  • Steven Heller, review of Remington and Fripp (2007) in The New York Times Book Review, p. 24, 1 June 2008.
  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Munich/Leipzig: K.G. Saur Verlag, 1990-., 1997
  • E. Hölscher, ‘Will Burtin, New York’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Oct. 1953, pp. 2-13
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983
  • Friedrich Friedl, Nicolaus Ott, Bernard Stein, Typography – when/who/how, Cologne: Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1998., 1998

Exhibitions

  • A-D Gallery, New York, 1948
  • AIGA, 1971
  • U.S. Embassy, London, 1972.