Allan Fleming was barely 30 when he was recruited to come up with a fresh new logo for CN. Yet the young Canadian designer had already made a name for himself with the bold, lyrical quality of his graphic designs.
Born in Toronto in 1929, Fleming followed a rather unorthodox route to professional excellence. He left art studies at Toronto’s Western Technical School at 16 to work as a kind of apprentice designer at various firms in the city. Then came further learning experiences in England, where he gleaned as much as he could from leading figures in the design world. Back in Canada, he joined the typographic firm Cooper and Beatty Ltd. in 1957 and was working there when the CN opportunity came his way in 1959.
Fleming left Cooper and Beatty in 1962 to become art director for Maclean’s magazine. He was vice-president and director of creative services at MacLaren Advertising from 1963 to 1968, chief designer at the University of Toronto Press until 1976, then joined Burns and Cooper.
Fleming’s work won him numerous awards throughout his career, not only in Canada but in the United States and at the international level. Yet he is no doubt best remembered as the creator of CN’s logo. The inspired design certainly entrenched his reputation as one of Canada’s most talented designers. At the same time, it heightened the profile of his profession, opening the way to greater creativity in countless design applications across the country.
Allan Fleming died after a long illness on December 31, 1977, at just 48.