Carol Twombly

Carol Twombly, born in 1959, spent much of her childhood in New England exploring various artistic disciplines, and settled on sculpture. She was a well-respected type designer, but she retired in 1999 in order to pursue other artistic interests. Prior, Twombly studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD); following her brother who pursued studies in architecture. She opted for graphic design, as she viewed it as being useful and easily applicable discipline. Though graphic design became her career focus, Twombly had not abandoned her other artistic pursuits, which included basket-weaving. While at RISD, and under the tutelage of Professor Charles Bigelow (the designer of the Lucida, Apple Chicago, Apple Geneva, Wingdings and other types) and his partner, Kris Holmes, she became interested in type design and typography; and worked during summer months in their studio.

After graduation from RISD and a year spent working in a Boston graphic design studio, Twombly accepted an invitation from Bigelow to join a small group of students in a newly formed digital typography program at Stanford University. Carol continued to work for the Bigelow and Holmes studio for the next four years and, in 1984, entered her first type design in the Morisawa Typeface Design Competition (sponsored by Morisawa Ltd., a Japanese manufacturer of typesetting equipment). She won for the typeface, “Mirarae”, which went on to be licensed and released by Bitstream.

Mirarae Twombly, Mirarae, Font Specimen, 1984

Since 1988, she had been a staff designer at Adobe Systems, and during more than eleven years with Adobe, Twombly designed a number of very popular text and display typefaces. Designs like “Trajan”, “Charlemagne”, “Lithos”, and “Adobe Caslon” are inspired by classic letterforms of the past – from early Greek inscriptions, circa 400 B.C., to William Caslon’s typefaces of the 1700s – while “Viva” and “Nueva” explore new territory while maintaining traditional roots. In 1994, she received the prestigious Prix Charles Peignot award from the Association Typographique Internationale for outstanding contributions to type design (and given to outstanding type designers under the age of thirty five). She was the first woman and only the second American to receive this prestigious honour. In a time when most of the notable typeface designers have been men, Twombly is recognised as one of the 20th Century’s most influential designers. As a matter of fact, she would work, for years, in the type design department at Adobe, when many of the Adobe Originals typefaces were planned and carried out in the 1990s. But, since retiring and leaving Adobe, Twombly has continued to explore other non-computer-based arts including weaving, natural-object sculpture, silk painting, and more.

TwomblyFaces Twombly, Specimen of Typefaces, Fonts, date unknown

Works influenced/inspired by Twombly

d02cc7a10f76099652516adfd89c4d57 Jorge Martinez, Carol Twombly Trajan 1989 Poster, Poster, 2013

roscover-coke-tweets photo-3-675x900 Dylan Roscover, Coke Tweets, Illustration, date unknown


Carol Twombly. Retrieved October 26, 2015, from

Carol Twombly. Retrieved October 26, 2015, from

Friedlander, J. (2010). Carol Twombly, An Extraordinary Type Designer. Retrieved October 26, 2015, from


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