Edward Fella, Paris, 2011.
Softcover, 256 pp., color and bw illustrations, 12 x 9 x 0.75 inches.
Born in 1938 in Michigan, Edward Fella began studying commercial art at Cass Technical High School, Detroit. He then spent 30 years working as a commercial artist for various Detroit agencies, mainly for auto-industry clients. In 1985, aged 47, Fella started a Master of Fine Arts at Cranbrook (in Bloomfield Hills, near Detroit), quitting commercial art for good in order to focus on its own creative work. Since graduating, he has taught graphic design at CalArts, where his enthusiasm for imperfect forms and semiotics informed a whole generation of graphic designers including Lorraine Wild, Katherine McCoy, Jeffery Keedy, P. Scott Makela, Barry Deck and Elliott Earls.
Now over 70 years old, Edward Fella continues to work (“I'm still running”, as he likes to say) and is one of the graphic-design authors who best epitomise American postmodernism. His hybridising of materials, forms, colours and topics, and the ease with which he moves between media, lend his art an originality and depth that will leave an enduring impression on the history of graphic design. His output spans an exceptionally wide range of techniques and sensibilities: flyers, illustrations, photographs, lettering, collages… Fella's work, in its ability to deconstruct America's landscape and vernacular letterforms, bears witness to a whole swathe of his country's popular culture.
“From an historical perspective, seeing design as a whole field of professional practice, as a continuum from high to low – high being the academic and low being the vernacular or the naïve – everything is valid at some point.”