New book from Unit Editions captures the lasting legacy of designer and rule breaker Ed Fella

The latest version of Unit Edition, Ed Fella: a life in pictures, revisits the work of famous American graphic designer, artist and educator Ed Fella, known for his inimitable style and penchant for breaking the rules of design. Born in Detroit in 1938, Fella’s first foray into the world of design began, surprisingly, in the tame world of advertising, where he created press ads and flyers for the healthcare and healthcare industries. automobile. Throughout the 50s, 60s and 70s these dull commercial jobs put food on the table, but it was in the more experimental and conceptual design that his real passion lay. For decades, Fella honed this aspect of his craft during the hours outside of his daily job, pushing boundaries and connecting with various art collectives around the city that encouraged original thinking. But it wasn’t until 1985 that he finally made the decision to quit advertising and go back to school, enrolling first as a student at the Center for Creative Studies and then at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1987. , then, later that year, taking a faculty position at CalArts. From 1987 to 2013, when he gave his last lecture, Fella imparted the abundant wisdom he had accumulated throughout his career – while continuing to develop his personal style in the background.

For writer and designer David Cabianca, who first came to Unit Editions with the idea for this monograph, capturing Fella’s illustrious journey and seminal work had been a dream of his for many years. “[He] worked tirelessly to get an Ed Fella monograph printed,” says Adrian Shaughnessy, co-founder and editorial director of Unit Editions. “It had been dropped by one or two publishers and came to us hoping we could get it published.” David approached the team with an abundance of photographs of Fella’s work, which he had taken at his studio in California. He wanted to turn them into a cohesive visual essay that would be a fitting homage to his personal practice, and approached Fella himself to create the montage from the thousands of images he had on hand. “The task of selecting and matching the work was something only Ed could do,” explains Adrian. “Our job was to produce an actionable grid that adapts to the large amount of text around it.”