30 Facts About Susan Kare


Susan Kare is an American artist and graphic designer best known for her interface elements and typeface contributions to the first Apple Macintosh from 1983 to 1986.


Susan Kare was a design consultant for Microsoft, IBM, Sony Pictures, and Facebook, Pinterest and she is an employee of Niantic Labs.


Susan Kare's father was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, a research facility for the senses of taste and smell.


Susan Kare's mother taught her counted-thread embroidery as she immersed herself in drawings, paintings, and crafts.


Susan Kare's goal was "to be either a fine artist or teacher".


Susan Kare later reflected that her "ideal life would be to make art full-time but that sculpture was too solitary".


In 1982, Kare was welding a life-sized razorback hog sculpture commissioned by an Arkansas museum when she received a phone call from high school friend Andy Hertzfeld.

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Susan Kare suggested that she get a grid notebook of the smallest graph paper she could find at the University Art store in Palo Alto and mock up several representations of his software commands and applications.


Susan Kare immediately embraced Bill Atkinson's existing rudimentary graphics software tools and applications, to toggle pixels on and off and convert the resulting images to hexadecimal code for keyboard input.


Susan Kare contributed to the Macintosh identity and devised ways to make the machine humanized, intuitively usable, relatable, and inviting.


Susan Kare stunned the staff of accomplished pixel artists and engineers with her unexpectedly personable renditions of their portraits in the Mac's standard pixel monochrome resolution for icons.


Susan Kare participated heavily in the prerelease marketing campaign for the Macintosh in 1983 by posing for magazine photo shoots, appearing in television advertisements, and demonstrating the Mac on television talk shows.


Susan Kare refined Apple's existing iconography and desktop metaphors imported from the Macintosh's predecessor, the Lisa, such as the trash can, dog-eared paper icon, and I-beam cursor.


Susan Kare devised the practice of associating unique document icons with their creator applications.


Chicago is her first font, made especially for systemwide use in menus and dialog; it has a bold vertical look initially named Elefont, in which Susan Kare implemented Jobs's idea of variable spacing, where each character can have the unique pixel width that it needs, to differentiate the computer from a monospaced typewriter.


Susan Kare became a Creative Director in Apple Creative Services working for the department director, Tom Suiter, "at a time when it seemed as if the main Mac development was over".


In 1986, Susan Kare followed Steve Jobs in leaving Apple to launch NeXT, Inc as its Creative Director and 10th employee.


Susan Kare introduced Jobs to her design hero Paul Rand and hired him to design NeXT's logo and brand identity, admiring his table-pounding exactitude and confidence.


Susan Kare created and re-created slideshows to Jobs's exacting last-minute requirements.


Susan Kare realized that she wanted "to be back doing bitmaps" so she left NeXT to become an independent designer with a client base including graphical computing giants Microsoft, IBM, Sony Pictures, Motorola, General Magic, and Intel.


Susan Kare was a founding partner of Susan Kare LLP in 1989.


In 2015, Susan Kare was hired by Pinterest as a product design lead as her first corporate employment in three decades.


In February 2021, Susan Kare became Design Architect at Niantic Labs.


Susan Kare focuses on simplicity in creating visual metaphors for computer commands.


Susan Kare intended to bring "an artist's sensibility to a world that had been the exclusive domain of engineers and programmers" and "hoped to help counter the stereotypical image of computers as cold and intimidating".

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Susan Kare thrived in the problem-solving approach to severe technological constraints of the 1980s, drawing heavily upon her fine art experience in mosaics, needlepoint, and pointillism.


Susan Kare has said that she would still prefer monochrome pixel art.


In October 2019, Susan Kare was awarded the National Design Award for Lifetime Achievement by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum.


Susan Kare is considered a pioneer of pixel art and of the graphical user interface, having spent three decades of her career "at the apex of human-machine interaction".


Susan Kare's work has a cult following, and large print versions of her digital portfolio are sold privately and at MoMA.