Susan Kare is an artist and graphic designer. Best known for her work with Apple, where she created some of the most recognisable icons for the original Macintosh computer.
In 1975 Kare received a B.A. in Art from Mount Holyoke College. Then, in 1978, graduated from New York University with a Ph.D. in fine arts. After which Kare moved to San Francisco and took a job as a curator for the Fine Arts Museums.
Quickly realising that she would much rather create art than sell it. In 1983, she accepted a position at Apple as the screen graphics and digital font designer. Having never designed a computer icon, nor a typeface before, Kare improvised. Learning on the job. All the while, oblivious to the cultural significance and longevity of the work she was creating.
Whilst at Apple, among the many famous icons, Kare designed the smiling computer icon, the wrist watch loader and Apple’s command key (⌘). She also designed notable typeface’s Monaco, Geneva and Chicago. All of which have since been converted to TrueType from their original bitmap version. Chicago was not only used for the Macintosh’s interface and brand identity, years later it was used in the first iPod.
After Steve Jobs left Apple and formed NeXT in 1985. Kare soon followed and served as NeXT’s Creative Director. The logo of the company was designed by the great Paul Rand. Kare saw Rand as a mentor and they both shared a similar ethos. Even if you are designing for a stiff blue collar industry, you should not have to suppress your natural playfulness.
Kare’s achievements are vast. Among many others, she has worked with clients Cisco, IBM, Motorola, Paypal, Sony Pictures, Xerox, Fossil, and BBDO. Some other works of note include designing the card deck for Microsoft Windows 3.0’s solitaire game. As well as Facebook’s “Gifts.” The gift feature initially donated its profits to Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, for the fight against breast cancer.
Kare’s work has earned its place in the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art in New York. The MoMA said this of Kare’s contributions,
“[Susan Kare is] a pioneering and influential computer iconographer. Since 1983, Kare has designed thousands of icons for the world’s leading software companies. Utilizing a minimalist grid of pixels and constructed with mosaic-like precision, her icons communicate their function immediately and memorably, with wit and style.”