Russell Bean was born in Parkes NSW, Australia, home of one of the world’s oldest and largest radio telescopes, about 300 kilometres west of the state capital, Sydney.
Since joining the workforce in the early 1960s as a production junior in an ad agency he has been involved with type either as a compositor, lettering artist, type director, logo designer, teacher, typographic services business principal or graphic designer. He cut his typographic teeth at an early age in various advertising agencies and later in the studios of the local photolettering houses, redrawing typefaces for filmfont setting as well as hand-composing headlines using photo-mechanical devices aided by ever reliable drawing-board methods. In the early seventies, he designed a five-weight family named Virginia which he entered in a design competition sponsored by Lettergraphics International of Los Angeles. The design was voted first of 5000 entries worldwide and resulted in an appointment to their LA studios in charge of lettering, logo design and converting the best of the competition entries to film fonts. It was at this time that the Washington Family was completed and became his second internationally offered type design in 1973.
On return to Australia that year, he teamed up with a long time colleague to form a design and art group in Sydney directed at the booming ad industry and later went on to re-establish the group under his sole direction. The early nineties saw computers demand a change in direction from dedicated typesetting systems and Bean quickly adapted to new technologies. When Letraset’s FontStudio and later Altsys (now Macromedia) Fontographer hit the scene in the early nineties it was like a dream realized.
Russell has been responsible for the creation of many Australian icons, perhaps most recognizable is for the national airline Qantas which is the result of the only hand-drawn version of 94 ideas submitted to the airline’s design group. Other logos adorn the boardrooms and rooftops of radio stations, insurance companies, other smaller airlines, website content and shelves full of supermarket lines.
Russell Bean has served on the executive committees of The Australian Type Directors’ Club and Australian Graphic Design Association and has frequently contributed editorially to publications serving the graphics community. For relaxation he prefers sailboarding, surfing or swimming at any of Sydney’s great beaches.