It is my favorite story about who Steve Jobs was even before he became the Steve Jobs.
Young Steve had dropped out of Reed College after a mere six months — the Portland school’s tuition was too pricey for his working-class parents — yet he continued to sit in on classes for 18 months, free to choose guided not by requirement but by pure interest. This led him to a calligraphy course, where he absorbed lessons on the intricacies and elegance of typography.
“It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating,” Jobs recounted in a 2005 Stanford commencement address that itself was beautiful and fascinating (highly recommended). “None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography.
“If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. ... And personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do.”
Apple co-founder STEVE JOBS, who died Wednesday at just 56 years old, is being hailed ‘round an Internet that was built on the spine of his own NeXT company technology. He is rightly being saluted as an icon and an innovator, an entrepreneur and an engineer. But he, of course, was even more than that.
Steve Jobs was an artist.
Throughout his career, Jobs designed digital products with practical, eye-catching elegance. When in the ‘80s he purchased what would become Pixar, he helped shift the company’s focus to pioneering animation. He even received an exec-producer credit on 1995’s groundbreaking “Toy Story,” and received “special thanks” in at least 10 Pixar films. Pixar released a statement Wednesday that said in part:.
”Steve Jobs was an extraordinary visionary, our very dear friend and the guiding light of the Pixar family. He saw the potential of what Pixar could be before the rest of us, and beyond what anyone ever imagined. Steve took a chance on us and believed in our crazy dream of making computer animated films; the one thing he always said was to simply ‘make it great.’ He is why Pixar turned out the way we did and his strength, integrity and love of life has made us all better people. He will forever be a part of Pixar’s DNA.”
And he would say that his work lay at the intersection of twin personal passions: technology and liberal arts.
Which is precisely why Steve Jobs would appreciate the more elegant portraits that have been rendered in his honor. In tribute to the memory of his artful eye, here are several worth savoring:
1. In 2004, Jobs memorably appeared in silhouette, overlapping with the Apple logo (photo, above top). After Jobs announced in August he was stepping down as CEO, Jonathan Mak — a self-described teen designer in Hong Kong — rendered this similar design, but with one notable, especially artful touch.
2. Steve Jobs seemed to encourage such silhouettes. Also after his August relinquishing of his top Apple duties, Boulder (Colo.) Camera editorial cartoonist John Sherffius crafted the above image.
3. It’s not uncommon to render a portrait figure in mosaic fashion, building a composite caricature or portrait with relevant building blocks. Here, Greece-based illustrator Charis Tsevis has constructed several black-and-white studies of Jobs, building up the portraits with tints cast by Jobs’s own Apple gadgets. Among his Jobs gallery, here are twin portraits. (Tsevis also created this striking Jobs portrait).
4. Speaking of mosaic portraits (and elegant typography), Dylan Roscover uses “text art” as its medium for this deviantART likeness.
5. It’s not an illustration, of course, but for a farewell image, we simply had to link to this snapshot — which the photographer claims to have taken near the Pixar studio shortly after Jobs died. If you believe in rainbows and magic and the power to achieve one’s towering dream born humbly in your parents’ California garage in the ’70s, you may well delight in THIS PIC by “Gromitgirl.”