At the age of 87 Wim Crouwel must be the doyen of Graphic Design. Born in Groningen in the Netherlands in 1928, he graduated from The Groningen Academy of Art. He never really considered himself an artist as he had worked all his life as a graphic designer. When he started in graphic design, Holland did not have any design agencies. Most of the large design work was sent outside the country. He and a couple of colleagues started Total Design. The agency won all the big Dutch contracts and were heavily supported by the Dutch Government.
Crowel worked in many Dutch art schools and universities but he is best known for his work for The Stedelijk Museum. He developed a particular style for the artists’ exhibitions held there. He never used images of the work but instead tried to represent the essence of the artist typographically and with blocks of colour.
He is best known for his New Alphabet which he claims was never intended for use. It is almost abstract, made up of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. Crowel worked within a grid system giving his work an angular aspect.
He also designed the Dutch stamps which are iconic. Other countries use images of politicians, royalty or wildlife but Crowel used his clean simple grid style on his philately.