GDC Fellow

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Laurie Lewis, FGDC

Laurie Lewis began her publishing and design experience in New York City with Robert Brownjohn and Ivan Chermayeff in the late 50s, in connection with Pepsi-Cola’s in-house magazine. She worked at Doubleday in the early 60s, acting as liaison between the book designers and the printing department. After moving to Toronto in 1963 she joined University of Toronto Press, where she worked very closely with Carl Dair during the production of his book Design with Type. When Allan Fleming joined U of T Press as Chief Designer in 1968 the Design Unit was formed and Lewis became Allan Fleming’s assistant. The department worked very closely together on major book productions, winning numerous awards both nationally and internationally.

In the early 1970s international book design awards were increasing the visibility of graphic designers in Canada. The federal government was promoting Canadian exports through Design Canada, then a division of Industry, Trade and Commerce. But without a national organization of designers, federal departments were unable to offer assistance to local design communities.

It became apparent that there was a need for a national organization of Graphic Designers. Well established groups existed in Toronto and in Montreal, and similar organizations were beginning in the Maritimes, the prairies, and on the west coast. The (then) Society of Graphic Designers, with an Ontario charter and with members in Toronto, Montreal and scattered across the country, wrote a proposal and approached Design Canada for assistance in forming a national organization.

Laurie Lewis, a professional member of the Ontario organization since 1969, and with institutional backing from University of Toronto, was in a position to facilitate national communications and liaison. A committee of regional representatives was formed and, with financial aid and logistic support from Design Canada, an inaugural meeting was held in Ottawa with the ultimate goal of drafting a national charter. Throughout 1973–1975 the National Committee of Regional Representatives met and teleconferenced to work out the details of a new national organization with chapters from coast to coast. Laurie Lewis served as Executive Secretary of the National organization of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada/Société des graphistes du Canada from 1973–1975, working with the regional representatives to establish a firm base for future chapters.

For her outstanding service to the design community, Laurie Lewis was made a Fellow of the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada in 1975, proposed by Allan Fleming and Leslie Smart. She was vice-president of the Ontario Chapter from 1975 to 1977 and continued to support the full empowerment of all regional chapters.

Laurie Lewis was responsible for developing a coordinated visual identity system for University of Toronto and its subsidiary, University of Toronto Press, and for the design of publications of University of Toronto Press. She introduced computers to the design office at University of Toronto in 1984, with the original Macintosh 512K, and was instrumental in facilitating the changes that resulted from this transformational technology. In 1991 she took early retirement from University of Toronto in order to pursue her other interests in writing and publishing.

She has continued to encourage and support graphic design internationally through workshops in publication design in the third world, particularly in South East Asia and in South America, through volunteer assignments with the Canadian International Development Agency. She is the founder and director of The Artful Codger Press, established to encourage the publication of memoirs and life writings.

After retirement from her international volunteer work Laurie began what she calls "another life." She became editor of Vista, the publication of the Seniors Association in Kingston, and began a new career as a writer. In 2011, at the age of 80, her first memoir, Little Comrades, was published by Porcupine’s Quill, and was selected by The Globe and Mail as one of the Top 100 Books of the Year 2011. As of this writing, her next book, Love, and all that jazz is scheduled for publication in 2013.