W. A. Dwiggins (1880–1956) was the quintessential maker: a designer of books and printing types, calligrapher, puppeteer, illustrator, humorist and essayist, kite-maker, playwright, and designer of costumes and theatrical sets. He understood that humor and satire are more effective vehicles for advocacy than are finger-wagging and lecturing. Dwiggins wrote often about matters that concerned him — from graphic-arts production to larger social issues — and in these commentaries employed a cast of colorful characters, chief among them his alter ego, Hermann Püterschein.
Bruce Kennett’s comprehensive biography of Dwiggins was just published by Letterform Archive, after fifteen years of research, writing, and photography. Bruce returns to the Center for Book Arts, this time to present examples of Dwiggins’s work, all of it infused with his wit and joyous spirit.
University of Southern Maine
Glickman Family Library
University Events Room, 7th Floor
314 Forest Avenue, Portland, Maine
Free and open to the public.
Book designer, photographer, and teacher Bruce Kennett lives in rural New England. After earning a B.A. in humanities and working as an architect and printer, he moved to Austria to study calligraphy and book design with Friedrich Neugebauer, and later translated Neugebauer’s The Mystic Art of Written Forms. During the 1980s, he was the managing director of Maine’s renowned Anthoensen Press, and since then has maintained his own studio working with clients such as the Folger Shakespeare Library, Boston College Law School, the Grolier Club, L.L. Bean, and the Mount Washington Observatory. In the peaceful surroundings of his country studio, Bruce designs illustrated books and exhibition graphics, and makes large-scale murals of his photographs.
Bruce has collected the work of W. A. Dwiggins since 1972, and has been writing and lecturing about him since 1980. His comprehensive biography, W. A. Dwiggins: A Life in Design, captures the inspiring accomplishments and wit of this amazing artist.