Bradbury Thompson – Showing Off What Paper Can Do

While just one print spread has been selected for this review, this review is generally meant to encapsulate the techniques and styles that were pretty much universally present across all of his print work. This image was sourced from Smashing Magazine (

Thompson was quite possibly most notorious for the work he was capable of delivering when few restrictions were placed on what he could or could not design. This was most obviously visible when he was tasked with designing full-page paper spreads to advertise the paper quality and printing capabilities of his employers, of which he had several during his career. He used these opportunities to flex his signature style – the separation of blue, yellow, purple, and black (technically Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, and Black as per CMYK color printing) to develop complex and eye-catching patterns. Just like his work on the wartime posters detailed in my other project post, he chooses to separate these colors in a way that nobody else really does in order to create something both incredibly visually striking and very well indicative of the printing quality available through the printing house for which he was designing.

Other facets of his design vocabulary peek their head through here, such as his affinity for simple geometric shapes. The planes are made up of incredibly simple shapes, yet form together in an offset triangular pattern to create an incredibly complex and visually engaging design, all from very little design “work” per se, but simply offsetting the different colors.

One facet of Thompson’s designs that I have covered very little over the course of my research and descriptions of him is the fact that he was incredibly obsessive over typography. This shows in his design work, boasting strong legibility despite his affinity for incredibly small typography. He was well known for designing his own fonts to fit specific needs, even going so far as to design a bible written in a custom font that would guide readers to read it in the same way they would if they were talking, with appropriate line breaks. This however, falls out of the scope of this particular project review, however it is interesting to note nonetheless.