- Ed Benguiat
The news of Alan’s passing is sad news indeed. He will be missed. Hearing this new brought back a fond memory of Alan that I would like to share. In 1973, I had just graduated art school in Philadelphia and was planning a summer vacation in Europe. First stop: London. My friend and teacher Keith Godard suggested I visit Alan. Upon arrival I worried that I did not have the proper attire for such an important meeting. I frantically combed the stores in the Earl’s Court area looking for a “cheap” suit. When I arrived at Pentagram (or was it Crosby, Fletcher, Forbes back then) I waited nervously in the reception area, in my new suit (with bell-bottoms), wide paisley tie and shoulder length hair (think Austin Powers.) Soon after, Alan bounded down the stairs looking super cool and very casual in JEANS AND OPEN NECK SHIRT! I felt a tad foolish but relieved. As he was reviewing my portfolio, a fly landed in his glass of sparkling water. When he reached to take a sip I raised a cautionary finger. Looking into the glass he grunted some British expletive, grinned, and we continued our discussion. This was my very first professional job interview complete with job offer “should I decide to expatriate.” Although I saw him infrequently over the years, I never forgot that meeting. I’ve enjoyed his Monographica recently and think his Art of Looking Sideways is as incomparably brilliant as he was. My heartfelt condolences to his family.
A lovely man
A brilliant mind
A visual genius
A giant among us.
His work will remind us
What a brilliant man, designer, artist, teacher and a total genius. Alan had such a powerful presence. Beware Wet Paint is still for me the best book about a designer, his thinking and work, only to be outdone, of course, by The Art of Looking Sideways, the ultimate book on design.
It’s always impossible to imagine the loss of anyone so filled with life and energy as Alan was—A beautiful man in every sense. Brilliant, generous, caring, charismatic and literate. In our generation there was no one like him. His contribution to our field will remain unsurpassed.
I remember first meeting Alan in his London apartment. It seemed the quintessential designer’s flat: oak files, enamel signs and all. With his bald head, intense eyes, scar running down his cheek and tight jeans, he freaked me out. He looked like a villain from a James Bond movie. But he was, of course, a very sweet guy. His book, The Art of Looking Sideways, is a wonderful monument to leave behind, and it’s worth all he designer tomes published in the last decade. It’s a mainstay of my design and illustration teaching.
Call me naïve, but this is how I see it:
We have The Art of Looking Sideways, so therefore we have Mr. Fletcher. Forever. I’m afraid I don’t have any interesting anecdotes to share about the great man, having only met him fleetingly, twice.
But I have the book. And so, I have him. To consult, to listen to, to share and pass on to others. I am a great believer in “We are, ultimately, what we leave behind.” Graphic designers, if we do it right, leave behind a LOT of stuff. And Mr. Fletcher’s stuff is among the best. He now sits next to Paul Rand, Lester Beal, Alvin Lustig, Tibor Kalman, and many others, on my bookshelves. I consult them all the time. And I learn, constantly, from what they have to show and tell me.
Alan was talented, witty, intelligent and courageous. He practiced his craft and life with singular and unaffected focus. He was a refreshing, outspoken straight shooter, leaving a legacy of great work that was uniquely his. Best of all, he had a caring and devoted family. Alan was challenging and just plain fun to be with, and I will sorely miss him.
-B. Martin Pedersen
We, as people- and design, as a profession, have lost a great and inspiring star. [Alan was] one of the wittiest and conceptual designers who ever lived.
To view Alan's obituary printed in the New York Times, please click on this link.
Alan was featured in Graphis Magazine issue # 297 May/June 1995 in an article by Ciaran McCabe, "Fletcher After Pentagram."