Thomas Morris

We met Thomas briefly back in 2007 as a participant in our Design Life series; and knew for sure we'd have to bring him back for the Fonts Festival. Last week, Thomas posted this entry in our feedback form for this month's topic:

I strive to effectively bring together spirited thinking, a dedication to precision, and the search for individuality and excellence to create custom typography that is rooted in a classic type or developed into a totally original font. By introducing the right amount of unique character and personality, a letterform can become a signature of lasting impact and appeal -- a mark of distinction and even an unforgettable icon.

Being reminded of the familiarity of the Morris name, I did a quick search of the hard drive to find his last post. Low and behold I turned up a whole collection of Morrises who have played a role in the shaping of both literary and visual arts for a century : William Morris, English designer in the Arts and Crafts Movement famous for creating repeating patterns for wallpapers and textiles -- Marcus Morris, the English Anglican priest who founded the Eagle comic featuring Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future -- Francis Orpen Morris notable as the author of many children's books -- Robert Tappan Morris who created the first computer worm, and even renowned typographer and designer Morris Fuller Benton who brought us Benton amongst many other well loved fonts. So, Thomas is certainly in good company -- and deserves a place amongst those names in history.

rock posters from the 60s and 70s

Typography that would define a generation

Doors PosterAnyone even remotely familiar with the "Rock" culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s is going to remember the look and feel of the San Francisco counter-culture revolution, and the graphics and art that enthralled its audiences. Thomas Morris played a role in establishing that look and feel.

During a stay at California College of Arts and Crafts* he began working with local promoters designing rock posters and psychedelic graphics for SF publisher, Celestial Arts. Eventually he founded his own alternative print shop, JellyRoll Press and learned to prepare and print all of his own rock posters on large, offset printing presses. A cross-section of his rock posters is chronicled in the collector's edition book "The Art of Rock". Sometimes producing a poster a week, his work often featured multiple colored ink fountains, often with no two posters looking the same. Enlarge

Logos hand-created by Morris

Rock on!spectacular example of refined hand typography

One thing that empresses even the most jaded design critic (like myself) is Thomas's intense attention to detail. You have to keep in mind that his art of the past was all about traditional methods. There were no computers. Here's where tissue after tissue hones the artist's eye to see when letter form weights are correct, and when something is not right. Looking at his art, you won't find a single serif or swash out of place or not perfect, dead-on. You just cannot generate this kind of perfection on the computer without first having refined the strokes, weights and balances by hand. Even the most accomplished digital illustrators of today will confess; it all starts on paper.

Smart GameToday, Thomas operates his own graphic design studio and has evolved into areas of brand design, product design, and of course logos and identity. He's given up the ruling pins, speedballs, tracing tissue and gouache for the digital world.

Thomas Morris digital studio delivers creative solutions in every genre and media to clients around the country, combining the wisdom and expertise from years of study, creative exploration and professionalism with the freshness of new ideas.

His work has been recognized by The New York Type Directors Club* for creating logos that featured distinctive custom lettering styles and original fonts design. Thomas also earned recognition for promotional, corporate identity and marketing pieces from the West Coast Art Directors’ Club, San Francisco Society of Communicating Arts and the ADMARK Association.

We can all take a lesson from the art and craft of Thomas Morris! Thanks to Thomas for the allowing us to visit ... and thanks to you for reading


visit Thomas's web site and enjoy some real visual pleasures!
NOTE Award winning letterforms
NOTE Rock Posters Collection (some you can even purchase!)
NOTE Brand Building & Logos
NOTE Graphic Design for Publishing
NOTE Fun with Photoshop

visit Thomas at:

Thomas Morris Design

Walnut Creek, California



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