Member Spotlight | Meet Brian Allen


Name: Brian Allen
Professional Discipline(s): Letterpress Printer & Graphic Design
Twitter | Website

What is your overriding professional goal?

Now, it’s leaving a legacy. I have nearly 40 years experience with type, typography, digital type design, calligraphy, et al: the art and craft of letterforms. I’m intent on sharing what I know, and emphasizing the craft aspects.

How do you explain what you do to ‘regular people?’

I print like Gutenberg.

Sadly, amazingly, many don’t know who that was! Then I say: I print the old-fashioned way, slow and meticulously. “Perhaps you’d like to buy a franchise.”

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

So far – I letterpress printed the menu of the Secretary of State’s Dinner at the 1997 Summit of the Eight, in Denver. Secretary Albright may have glanced at it…. But, you do what you can.

What is your non-work creative outlet?

Walking. My best ideas bubble up through the meditative rhythm. It doesn’t matter if it’s sidewalk or trail, giving the unconscious mind some breathing space is the best way for me to encourage creative thought.

What’s your biggest design-related pet peeve?

The horrifying letterspacing that’s out there – lord a-mercy!

What is the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

Humans. Such curious creatures they are, trying to get through the day without total humiliation.

If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one ability or quality, what would it be?

I should like to rise, refreshed, now having acquired complete facility with all design software of any kind, deftly executing every shortcut and trick, shipping files in no time at all. And, of course, showing deep compassion towards those who lack this ability.

Who is your favorite cartoon character?

Bugs Bunny

Why are you involved with AIGA Raleigh?

To meet like-minded people, and to mentor.

What led you to volunteer or join the board?

I became a member of the program committee of the board when I moved to the area, to meet designers. I had been the PR chair for the Colorado chapter in the mid-90s, with the same desire. I’ve wanted to help further the cause of design where I live.

What have you done as a board member or volunteer that you are most proud of?

Being a helper – supporting the greater cause of design thinking and educating civilians about the value of design.

What goals do you have for the future of the chapter?

Maintaining and increasing the momentum of what’s come before. The chapter has been doing great work, and it’s important to keep going, fighting against the entropic forces of a “good enough” society.

What have you seen other chapters do that was really cool?

The Colorado chapter once had a Valentine’s charity auction of member’s art. It was great to see the non-design creative work that people did. Members got to know each other in a different/deeper way, and raised money for a good cause.


By Amy Lyons
Published March 1, 2014