Millions of people around the world are familiar with the artwork of Susan Kare, but few would be able to connect that name with Apple's early computer icons.
The would-be pioneer of pixel-level art had originally intended to become a studio arts professor. But while working in a museum in the early 1980s, she heard from high school friend Andy Hertzfeld, then lead software architect for the Macintosh operating system. Hertzfeld introduced Kare to bitmap graphics and to the idea of working at Apple, where she wound up being one of the early hires.
She worked in the Macintosh software group, designing user interface graphics and fonts and sporting a business card that read "Macintosh Artist." In addition to her now iconic icons, Kare also designed the first proportionally spaced digital font family.
Kare's icon designs imbued the Mac with emotion and identity, giving it a distinct personality. They also gave the machine its first method of communicating with the user, letting it convey information without words.
Steve Jobs himself didn't specifically direct her art, but Kare said that "Steve definitely looked over options and expressed his preferences. We used to joke that it was never a good idea to show him one of anything, because he could reject it. If there were a few icons, he could still reject something but choose something, too."
Kare's new book, Susan Kare Icons
, provides a curated look at 80 of her favorite icons created between 1983 and 2011.