Frank Newfeld was born in Czechoslovakia in 1928. In 1937, at nine years of age he moved to England with his sister and mother, who was convinced that Europe was doomed. They settled in Brighton, Sussex County, where he received both his Matriculation and a scholarship grant to attend the Brighton College of Art. Following that, Newfeld was accepted by the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London on yet another grant. During his years at the College he enrolled in various courses, including stage design, illustration and typography.
When the war ended he accompanied his family to Canada and eventually opened a free lance studio in downtown Toronto and began his life here as an illustrator and book designer. The Frank Newfeld Studio soon became well known and well used. His work was sought by many magazines such as Mayfair and Macleans, as well as major publishing houses not only in Canada but also in the United States, including Little Brown, Atheneum and Houghton Mifflin.
Among the contacts he made while working with downtown clients and suppliers were three typographers from England who like Frank were interested in starting some kind of group in Canada which would encourage the use of well designed typographic matter. They were John Gibson, Leslie (Sam) Smart and Frank Davies. They met at Frank's studio and came to the conclusion that what was needed was a society that specifically engendered fine typography. The four began hosting small public events, and were amazed at the positive response from fellow professionals. The name Typographic Designers of Canada [TDC] was suggested and accepted in 1956. The first TDC presidency fell to Sam Smart. Newfeld became President No.3.
In addition to design and illustration, he taught at a number of Toronto institutions, including Central Technical School, Ryerson Institute of Technology (now Ryerson University), and the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD). Many years later he spent time at Sheridan College, eventually becoming Head of the Illustration Program, which position he held until his retirement. Newfeld has always felt that a full career should have three stages. 1. To try to learn responsibly 2. To try to do responsibly 3. To try to teach responsibly.
For over five years Newfeld did freelance work for McClelland & Stewart. In 1963 he was invited to join the company as Art Director. Within a short time he was asked to take over the position of Creative Director and Production Manager as well as accepting a seat on the firm’s Board of Directors. Six years later he was to become M&S’s Vice-President, Publishing. Shortly after this, Hugh Kane, the Senior Vice President who had brought Frank into the company left the firm and Newfeld followed suit within a few months. It was time to re-establish the Frank Newfeld Studio.
Work flowed in quickly. First the National Gallery of Canada commissioned him to design several major catalogues and posters for exhibitions and were extremely pleased with the results. He was asked to accept a contract to consult one day a week on publishing matters. Then Hugh Kane, who had become head of Macmillan Canada, asked Newfeld to design and illustrate two children's poetry books on a royalty basis, rather than the usual flat fee. which Frank accepted. To date, one book has sold well over half a million copies. The book was called Alligator Pie and has just celebrated its 40th anniversary!
To the world of children's literature, Newfeld has personally contributed three of his own books: The Princess of Tomboso, Simon and the Golden Sword and Creatures. He also designed and co-authored an art-book: Great Canadian Painting, as well as being the co-publisher of Sorel Etrog Sculpture. His semi biography, Drawing on Type was published by The Porcupines Quill after his retirement.
Over his career Frank Newfeld has designed over 650 books for Canada, the United Kingdom, The United States and Israel.
He has collected over 170 awards both here and abroad, for both design and illustration. They include three medals from the prestigious Leipzig Book Show, two honourable mentions at the Hans Christian Andersen awards, the Canadian Centennial Medal, the Elizabeth II Jubilee medal, and two awards from Typomundus 20. He has been given awards from the AIGA, Art Directors and Type Directors clubs of New York, Chicago, Montreal and Toronto. Frank represented Canada at the 1976 Illustration Biennial in Bratislava and his work was exhibited in Bologna in 1990. His most recent medal was The Robert R. Reid award presented by the Alcuin Society. In addition he is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy.
From a profile by Randall Speller ~ 'The "pleasure of visual sophistication" has certainly been the foundation of Frank Newfeld's career. Newfeld has combined art and humour with an intellectually rigorous practice and applied it to the design of the Canadian book. The result has been a rarely seen sophistication and artistry that stands far above others in the field'.
Frank Newfeld was awarded the Order of Canada on May 7, 2015; Invested on September 23, 2015.
Frank passed away on July 8, 2021.