CalArts Oral History Interviews:Fella, Ed

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Ed Fella
Faculty, School of Art: 1987 - 2015

Ed Fella, born in 1938, practiced as a commercial artist in Detroit, Michigan, for three decades before enrolling at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he received his MFA in design in 1987. The year he joined the faculty at California Institute of the Arts and has continued his career as a self-described “exit level designer” undertaking a wide ranging series of idiosyncratic projects that stubbornly resist categorizations, though they freely partake of the conventions of graphic design, typography, photography, illustration and fine art. He retired after 25 years of active teaching, but continues working in his CalArts studio among students as an honorary “Professor emeritus.” Fella’s influence on contemporary design has been widely acknowledged: he is a recipient of the Chrysler Design Award (1997) and the AIGA medal (2007, “Recognized as an artist, educator, and iconoclastic designer daring to shape contemporary typography and graphic design.”). His work has been the focus of issues of the magazines Émigré (1991) and Idea (Japan 2006). Letters on America, a book of his photographs of vernacular lettering, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2000. Ed Fella: Documents, was published in France by Pyramyd in 2011. His work is in the collections of the National Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum, and more recently, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Interview Clips

Interviewer: Stuart Smith

Interview dates & Length:

January 6, 2015: 1 hr. 27 min.

January 27, 2015: 2 hr. 15 min.

March 8, 2015: 1 hr. 48 min.

May 2, 2015: 1 hr. 22 min

June 2, 2015: 1 hr. 42 min

Formats Available:

Audio MP3



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