Ed Fella, born in 1938, practiced as a commercial artist in Detroit, Michigan, for three decades before enrolling at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he received an MFA in design in 1987. That year, he joined the faculty at California Institute of the Arts and has continued his career as a self-described “exit level designer,” undertaking a wide ranging series of idiosyncratic projects that stubbornly resist categorization, though they freely partake of the conventions of graphic design, typography, photography, illustration and fine art. He retired after 25 years of active teaching, but continues working there in his studio among the students as an honorary “Professor emeritus.” Fella’s influence on contemporary design has been widely acknowledged: he is a recipient of the Chrysler Design Award (1997) and the AIGA medal (2007, “Recognized as an artist, educator and iconoclastic designer daring to reshape contemporary typography and graphic design”). His work has been the focus of issues of Emigre magazine (1991) and Idea magazine (Japan, 2006). Letters on America, a book of his photographs of vernacular lettering, was published by Princeton Architectural Press in2000. Ed Fella: Documents, published in France by Pyramyd in 2011. His work is in the collections of the National Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Walker Art Center, and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Museum and most recently, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.