When it came to the blending of photography, typography and color, nobody did it better than Bradbury Thompson (1911–1995). He expanded the boundaries of the printed page and influenced the design of a generation of art directors.
By simply looking at one year of his career, the scope of his involvement in the field of graphic design can be understood.
In 1945, Thompson designed the final issues of three wartime magazines including Victory and USA. Back in New York, before the year was out, he had become art director of Mademoiselle, which he served for nearly fifteen years. He also accepted the role of design director for Art News and Art News Annual, a position he held for 27 years. As if that were not enough, he designed a brochure for the Ford Motor Company and began his experiments in typographic reform by creating his "monoalphabet," which broke with the tradition of separate letterforms for upper- and lower-case letters. He first introduced this typographic innovation in an issue of Westvaco Inspirations for Printers, one of four issues he produced that year. And 1945 was not an unusual year.
Thompson's first commission to design a stamp for the U.S. Postal Service in 1958 led to over 90 other designs. He often used portions of paintings in his designs, such as a 1980 stamp featuring Glow by Josef Albers, and as a member of the Citizens' Advisory Committee, he suggested a U.S. logo for each stamp to show national unity.
Books and their design were also critical in Thompson's career right from the start, as art editor of his high school yearbook to the publishing of The Washburn College Bible—a King James translation with revolutionary type and design.
Thompson is one of the few art directors who have received all three major design awards: National Society of Art Directors Art Director of the Year, 1950; AIGA Gold Medal, 1975; and the Art Directors Hall of Fame award, 1977. ca