My dad wrote a great blog-post of his own today about Vernon’s professional life. I invite you to take a look at it here, it might help explain a few things. Typography is very specialized field, so it’s been nice to get response from some of his colleagues in these past days. I see his work everywhere, especially lately, and its nice to know that the designs he made for Google several years ago are still popular, maybe even more so. He was contracted to make these fonts, and paid at the time, but never received royalties because they were made available to the public for free download. It was controversial at the time, but he and his web-font colleagues were ahead of the curve, as now these pieces of him are all over the world. For us as a family, its been a wonderful reminder of our person, still speaking with his alphabets, popping up in the most unexpected places, sometimes several times a week…on the web, in shop windows, and even clothing. We never got rich in money, but we are rich in the legacy of his work…which seems especially valuable now that he is no longer human. His work is as prevalent at the moment as pigeons.
I’d like to share some of the tribute posts and letters I’ve received from his colleagues lately.
This is from Richard Fink, a type designer that I recently met online, one of Vernon’s pals:
“A guy I’ll always remember fondly named Vernon Adams passed away last night at the age of 49. He had been severely injured in a traffic accident a little over two years ago, the kind of life altering tragedy that my family knows more than a bit about, unfortunately. Vernon never recovered and has been in hospice care for the past few weeks. He leaves behind an adorable daughter and a son in his early teens. His wife, Allison Moore Adams has been incredible throughout. I met Vernon, through our mutual friend, Dave Crossland. Vernon was a prolific contributor to Google Fonts since it’s early days. His font designs remain very popular and if you take the sheer number of human eyes using Vernon’s fonts to read, comprehend, and receive a little something extra because of the expressive power of the designs alone, then Vernon Adams is one of the most effective and influential font creators who ever lived. His talent and his giving spirit combined and was carried forward by the technology of the web with a power never before applied to typefaces. Rest in peace, brother, and know how grateful we will always remain.”
Richard wrote me the other day about mentioning Vernon in a talk at this weeks TypeCon conference in Seattle. I believe Dave paid tribute to him as well. It’s all very moving.
Dave, whom I’ve written about here before wrote:
“Vernon meant a lot to me. We shared a vision of the future. He got what I am trying to do better than anyone. He was willing to take artistic risks and to explore the unbroken ground and sieze the possibilities of a new medium. You can’t go far on the web today (or out in the world) seeing his creativity. I feel fulfilled that I got to talk with him one last time, and he said two things about his work. The hundreds of billions of views his work has been seen is good, but he said it isn’t enough. And I need to figure out a way for his legacy to pay dividends for you and the family. I will see what I can do with his vision of the future ”
Just this morning, I got a message from a friend of his as far back as (pre-university level) art college in Bournemouth, when he must have been a teenager still:
“Hi. You won’t know me, but I knew Vernon. We were at Shelley Park together and I was always fond of him. We shared a sense of humour and would make sly jokes at the expense of some of the more pretentious students. He was always very stylish with his giant flick of dark hair and chelsea boots. He certainly left an impression on me. WE became friends on Facebook a while back and it’s good to be able to see how people lives turned out. I wasn’t surprised to see that he’s moved in typography, because even back in 85/86 he had a pop art sensibility. I’ve been following the events since his crash and the video of him singing along with homeward bound had me in tears. I’ve also witnessed your strength and love from afar and when I came on here today and saw that Vernon has died I felt I had to just make contact and let you know that he is in the hearts of people you may not ever meet. I’m so sorry for your loss, my love goes out to you and your kids. One day back in 1986 Vernon was working on one his odd blank canvasses where he stitched various squares of canvas together on a canvas. I was watching him as he stood on a little red chair busying about at his task and I told him that from where I was he looked like part of his picture. So I quickly painted him to show him. This morning I dug it out. I was never sure why I kept it other than as a reminder of Vernon and that moment (it’s not the greatest painting). But as I have nothing else to offer I thought I’d share it with you. All the best, Allison. My condolences Rob x”
I can tell it’s him, even from here. Thank you for saving and also for sharing this, Rob.
In the various art schools he was in, people have fond memories. But he hardly saved any work. It seems he gave it away to his friends. If anyone has any pictures of previous work, I’d love to see them. Please send a note and a photo my way.
Here’s one last little one that Chris Adams posted yesterday. He’d found some old stamp samples that Vernon had designed as they were starting their little business together shortly before the accident. His cleverness still shines through.
“The only unique contribution that we will ever make in this world will be born of our creativity.” Brené Brown
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?” Ecclesiastes 3:22
(Don’t forget to check out my dad’s blog. After all, he loved him too.)