Type Designers Reflect on 30 Years of Adobe Illustrator

In addition to the Adobe Type team sharing their Illustrator memories, we invited our Typekit foundry partners to reminisce about 30 years of the application and its influence on their work. Folks certainly had a lot to share! Highlights are below, and we encourage you to click through on each designer’s name to travel back through the last three decades of type design.

Photo courtesy of Mark Simonson

“I first tried making a vector alphabet in Illustrator. This was mainly done by starting with a circle and using pathfinder subtract until I got the letter shape I wanted—a very crude process. But it was the ’90s and it seemed cool to make fonts like that.”
CJ Dunn


“I used it for graphic design, in fact, as a designer, it was my primary program as most of the designs I created were single page layouts or illustration, lettering, etc. Now I use it, again, for testing and creating type related graphics.”
Laura Worthington


“When I bought Illustrator 1.0 and sat down to use it, it just blew me away how good it was compared to anything else. I was particularly impressed at how well it performed. There was no lag or flickering on the screen as you dragged paths around, unlike other apps. And it printed out exactly the way it looked on the screen.”
– Mark Simonson


“Illustrator made it possible for both aspects of type to be manipulated professionally and in detail.”
– José Scaglione


“Super-sharp, crisp typographic and graphic images are now ubiquitous, and geographic location is irrelevant as a collaboration factor.”
Greg Thompson


“I left the newspaper job for a position helping a trade magazine convert to digital publishing. I also helped create high-res illustrations—maps, mainly. Using Illustrator, I traced thousands of miles of coastline, all the while honing my vector-graphics skills.”
Brian Willson


“To me, Illustrator is like a big desk on which you can freely organize your artwork, your logo, lettering research, your pages – as you want.”
Jean François Porchez


“Now it’s the first Adobe CC app in my Mac dock. Partly because it was the first. But also because it’s essential for digital and desktop design.”
Roger Black


We hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane (or should we say path?) as much as we did. For more about Illustrator’s 30th celebration, check out the Creative Cloud blog.

4 Responses

  1. Diana Arango says:

    Amo illustrator es mi herramienta de trabajo desde que inicie en esta carrera.

  2. I am just now getting in to Illustrator! Feels strange knowing that there’s 30 years of history just behind the one program!

  3. i didn’t even know what a printer was, 🙂 wow

  4. Violet says:

    Wow! This is something! Amazing journey!

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Meghan Arnold

Meghan Arnold

Community engagement at Typekit. Former TYPO San Francisco conference director. Probably taking photos of signs or San Francisco sunsets. Will one day write about her adventures.

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