Alan Fletcher was a celebrated name during the twentieth century in the graphic designing field. He was highly regarded by his generation of graphic designers and the following ones, for his prolificacy and an astounding body of work.
Born on September 27, 1931, Alan Fletcher spent early years of his life in Nairobi, Kenya. His father was a civil servant in Kenya but as his father’s health declined considerably, his family moved to England when he was five. Before being evacuated to Christ’s Hospital in Horsham in 1939, he resided at his grandparent’s house in West London. In 1949, Fletcher enrolled himself at the Hammersmith School of Art and then went on to study at the Central School of Art. The latter offered him great opportunities as he trained under an eminent typographer Anthony Froshaug. He also made friends with some of the notable artists of the time including Colin Forbes, David Hicks, Derek Birdsall, Terence Conran and Theo Crosby. Soon after graduation, he moved to Barcelona where he taught English at Berlitz Language School for a year. Upon his return to London, he attended the Royal College of Art (1953-1956). The same year he finished the school he married an Italian, Paola Biagi.
Even after marriage, Fletcher continued his studies as he earned a fellowship at the Yale School of Architecture. There his artistic sense and skills flourished under the supervision of some of the notable graphic designers and artists which include Paul Rand, Herbert Matter, Josef Albers, Alvin Eisenman and Bradbury Thompson. He befriended other designers as well, such as Bob Gill. In 1958, Leo Lionni commissioned Fletcher to design a cover for Fortune magazine. He briefly travelled around and did a stint for Saul Bass in Los Angeles and Pirelli in Milan, but returned to London in 1959.
Subsequently, Fletcher began working on his own design firm. In 1962, he co-founded ‘Fletcher Forbes Gill’, in partnership with Colin Forbes and Bob Gill. The following year they produced Graphic Design: A Visual Comparison. Some of their leading clients included Olivetti, Pirelli, Cunard and Penguin Books. In a few years, Gill left the firm and was replaced by Theo Crosby. The firm evolved into Pentagram in 1972, as two more partners joined it and some noted clients sought their expertise, such as Lloyd’s of London and Daimler Benz. Some of his major works are still used, for instance, a logo for Reuters developed in 1965, “IoD” logo for the Institute of Directors and “V&A” logo for Victoria and Albert Museum.
Moreover, Fletcher also founded British Design & Art Direction in partnership with his friends; David Bailey and Terence Donovan. It was later renamed as Designers and Art Directors Association (D&AD). After decades of producing innovative and inspiring work, he left Pentagram in 1992. Henceforth, he worked from his home in Notting Hill, where his daughter Raffaella Fletcher assisted him. In 1993, he joined the Phaidon Press for which he produced majority of work as art director in his later life. Fletcher believed that design and life are two inseparable things as he put it in the words, “Design is a way of life.” In 1994, Jeremy Myerson published his book of design, titled Beware Wet Paint. Besides, he penned down a number of books on the subject of graphic design and visual thinking. It took Fletcher 18 years to produce his magnum opus, The Art of Looking Sideways (2001). The Design Council awarded him Prince Philip Designers Prize in 1993. Cancer claimed Alan Fletcher’s life in 2006, at the age of 74.
Alan Fletcher’s work archive is available on http://www.alanfletcherarchive.com/archive/era