Design Forages

Random pickings from the design world

Design Icons: Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher in his studior

“Design is what happens between conceiving an idea and fashioning the means to carry it out.”

Today is the birthday of legendary graphic designer Alan Fletcher (1931 – 2006).

This post is my own little tribute to a designer who has provided inspiration to so many designers in so many ways.

As graphic designers go, Alan Fletcher was pioneer, an outlier.

He truly lived the archetypal tenet so often preached today that designers, graphic or otherwise, should seek inspiration outside the sphere of our profession. His multifarious interests, passions and wit shine through the diversity in style and execution of his work.

Eschewing trends and conventions, he had the bravery and insight to bring unorthodox ideas to corporate boardrooms at highest end of business. Importantly he also had the personality to bring those kind of clients along with him on the journey.

For a man who would have been 81 today, he conveyed wonderful humanity and progressiveness in his work and writing. The toys created for his grandson, are one of many examples of his fervent commitment to creative exploration, something we should all be encouraging in our children.

The legacy he has left graphic designers is immeasurable. Not least his wonderful books. This tiny post couldn’t begin to encapsulate his career, the links below are to some of his more famous pieces. Here are a few of mine from his great books.


The Art of Looking Sideways

Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer

The Art of Looking Sideways is a masterpiece design publication. A huge compendium of thoughts, ideas, quotations and intriguing anomalies. I’ve had the book for years and every time I pick it up I find something new.

Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 2
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 3
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 4
The Art of Looking Sideways
The Art of Looking Sideways

Beware Wet Paint

Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 7

Beware Wet Paint is a summary of Alan’s work over his 35 year career up to 2004.

Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 8
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 9
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 10
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 11

Picturing and Poeting

Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 12

Picturing and Poeting is a beautiful mélange of doodles, drawings, unconventional thoughts and ideas, to help keep your minds eye open.

Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 13
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 14
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 15
Alan Fletcher Graphic Designer 16
Alan Fletcher didn’t just design for commerce or for clients. He also designed for his soul, to bring a sense of clarity to the maelstrom. I would love to have met him.

Further Reading

Alan Fletcher at the Design Museum

An Interview with Mike Dempsey

Obituary by Michael Beirut

Eye Magazine Interview

Alan Fletcher: Back to School (Creative Review)

Design Icons: Paula Scher