Photograph by Corey Davis
is a graphic artist and educator, primarily specializing in the design of posters, photography books, and corporate branding. Hidy also created the Penumbra typeface family for Adobe, and designed three U. S. postage stamps. After being chosen by Ansel Adams to design the landmark book,
Yosemite and the Range of Light
Hidy continues to design the official books for the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, and Little, Brown and Company, publishers. After a two-year stint as art director for the Harvard Business Review, Hidy turned to education. He worked twenty-one years, part-time, at Northern Essex Community College, teaching design and photography, then specializing in accessible media and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Hidy’s writing on design has been widely published in books and journals.
Childhood and college
Hidy began a lifetime in the graphic arts at age 12 when he took a series of classes on Italic handwriting using the Lloyd Reynolds handbook in Portland, Oregon. Passionate about art and visual communication, he began studying photography and darkroom techniques in high school, while drawing and painting constantly. As an undergraduate art major at Yale he came under the influence of artist Leonard Baskin, learning letterpress printing, etching, wood engraving, and bookbinding.
Book design and Ansel Adams
After graduation Hidy was the founding art director of David R. Godine’s Boston publishing company, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. During his three years there Hidy began designing photography books—most notably Arnold Newman’s
One Mind’s Eye
(1974). After leaving Godine’s to start his own design studio, Hidy was chosen by Ansel Adams to design
Yosemite and the Range of Light
(1979), which would be the final book of Adams’ lifetime. Hidy went on to design many other books for the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust and Little, Brown and Company.
Adobe and the computer revolution
In 1988 Hidy acquired a Mac Plus computer and began a seven-year consultancy with Adobe Systems. First working with Sumner Stone’s type group, he helped develop the Adobe Originals program, which would include Hidy’s own titling typeface, Penumbra (1994). It is a family of sixteen fonts in four weights, with four options for serif—sans serif, flare serif, half serif, and serif. As Adobe grew, Hidy traveled around the country, giving lectures and running workshops to help promote the company’s revolutionary digital tools for graphic artists.
Posters and postage stamps
In 1977 Hidy designed a silkscreen poster, starting what would become a parallel career to his work in book design. He went on to produce roughly forty hand-printed silkscreen editions, plus sixteen by offset lithography. His photography-based poster design style caught the attention of the U.S. Postal Service who commissioned three postage stamps: Mentoring a Child, Special Olympics, and Jury Duty.
Teaching and universal design for learning
After stints of teaching graphic design at Boston University, Mary Baldwin College, University of Kansas, and Massachusetts College of Art, Hidy settled down to teach design, illustration, and digital photography at Northern Essex Community College in Massachusetts for eighteen years. After leaving the faculty, he stayed three more years to work in the Learning Accommodations Center, coaching faculty and staff on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a movement dedicated to helping educators make their course materials more accessible and user-friendly for all students, regardless of their abilities. As part of this work he developed an icon system for all of his college’s degrees, that helped to promote visual thinking skills across all departments.
Fly fishing and fly tying
Hidy’s father, Vernon S. “Pete” Hidy (1914–1983), was a well-known fly-fishing writer, editor, photographer, fly-tier, and the founder of the Flyfisher’s Club of Oregon. Inheriting his father’s papers and fly-tying materials in 2006, Lance Hidy began organizing them, and sharing them online, and in the scholarly journal,
The American Fly Fisher.
This research led to V. S. Hidy being inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame in 2017. Writing about his father and photographing his trout flies continues to be an ongoing thread in Hidy’s work.
Gradually developing an interest in writing, Hidy
gradually began contributing articles to graphic art journals in the 1980s. The topics range across design techniques, theory, and history—and of course, fly fishing. He also continues to give slide shows on all of the topics above, including his most popular presentation about working with Ansel Adams, and Adams’ contributions to both photography and environmentalism.
Hidy and his wife Cindia Sanford each have two children from previous marriages, and share seven grandchildren. They live in Merrimac, Massachusetts, on the New Hampshire border, eight miles inland from the coast. Hidy is often seen riding his bicycle near his home, through woods, farms, small towns, and along the scenic roads of the Merrimack River Valley.