Kare, who is sixty-four, will be honored for her work on
April 20th, by her fellow designers, with the prestigious AIGA
medal. In 1982, she was a sculptor and sometime curator when her
high-school friend Andy Hertzfeld asked her to create graphics for
a new computer that he was working on in California. Kare brought
a Grid notebook to her job interview at Apple Computer. On
its pages, she had sketched, in pink marker, a series of icons to
represent the commands that Hertzfeld’s software would execute.
Each square represented a pixel. A pointing finger meant “Paste.”
A paintbrush symbolized “MacPaint.” Scissors said “Cut.” Kare told
me about this origin moment: “As soon as I started work, Andy
Hertzfeld wrote an icon editor and font editor so I could design
images and letterforms using the Mac, not paper,” she said. “But I
loved the puzzle-like nature of working in 16 × 16 and 32 × 32
pixel icon grids, and the marriage of craft and metaphor.”
Susan Kare deserves every award in the world. Her work was central — essential — to what made the Macintosh the Macintosh. The early Macintosh was not just the most endearing computer ever made, I’d argue that it remains the most endearing computer ever made — and in large part that was due to Susan Kare’s icons and fonts.