The passageway leading into the South Campus gallery is swimming in an alphabet soup of letters and familiar icons and signage, hawking everything from the latest blockbuster to cheap, fast cash loans. It’s an immersive experience in the nuanced codes and messages contained within the various fonts and typefaces that punctuate our modern landscape. This visceral typographic encounter acts as an introduction to the student-produced temporary show, 85_15 TYPOGRAPHY: PAST/PRESENT/FUTURE, which is the first exhibition to be presented by the new Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography (HMCT), due to make its official debut on November 7 with the Symposium and Center opening celebration in its permanent space on the ground floor of ArtCenter’s 950 South Raymond building.
Laughter, tears and, most of all, love was in abundance last Thursday evening, when more than 200 close friends and family gathered in Art Center’s Wind Tunnel Gallery to remember the extremely perceptive, bigger than life, impressively precise, brutally honest and encouragingly supportive Leah Toby Hoffmitz Milken, who passed away in October after battling a rare form of brain cancer.
President Lorne M. Buchman described Leah’s teaching as “the spine,” the core, the fundamental center for the design practice of her students. “Letterforms are a significant means through which human knowledge is conveyed and made precise, he explained. “Leah gave us the gift of knowing language, of seeing the visual word, in its most precise and exacting form. And from that came a release, a creativity of communication that can only enhance our experience as human beings.”
It is with much sadness that I write to inform you of the passing of Professor Leah Hoffmitz Milken. She died on Saturday morning after an extended illness.
A renowned letterform expert, Leah taught at Art Center for more than 20 years and was a beloved member of our community. Throughout her career, she specialized in the creation of unique logotypes and typefaces for multiple industries and media. Corporate brands benefiting from her first-rate typographic eye include FedEx, Nokia, United Airlines and Disney, among many others.
As a faculty member, Leah helped shape and influence scores of graduates, many of whom have become internationally recognized experts in graphic design and typography. In 2013, she received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Recognition of Excellence in Teaching, Professional Accomplishment and Institutional Service. The tribute hailed her extraordinary devotion to students and to the College that she loved.
Like most dedicated Art Center instructors, Professor Gloria Kondrup (MFA ’93 Graphics/Packaging) is always looking for creative ways to encourage, inspire and support her students. In 2013, she and legendary Graphic Design instructor Professor Leah Hoffmitz Milken established the Hoffmitz|Kondrup Excellence in Typography Award. Created as part of their Legacy Circle membership with a gift from the Lowell Milken Family Foundation, the Award is given once each year to an upper-term Graphic Design student who demonstrates excellence in typography across all media.
We brought Kondrup and first-ever Award recipient Quinton Larson together to chat about the award and their love of typography.
Art Center: Gloria, what was the motivation behind creating the Hoffmitz|Kondrup Excellence in Typography Award?
Gloria Kondrup: Leah and I share a love of type and language. As instructors we regularly saw students struggle financially to stay in school. The Award is a way to celebrate typography while providing meaningful financial support to a top Graphic Design student.