Mar 9, 2012
Robert Reid (Left) with friend and fellow book designer Tak Tanabe
Born in Alberta in 1927, Robert Reid moved to Vancouver with his family at an early age. During his second year at the University of British Columbia he spotted a beautiful rubricated book on display in the library which inspired him to make something similar. Two years later, in 1949, he issued his first limited edition, a reprint of Alfred Waddington's The Fraser Mines Vindicated.
This book was well received, and encouraged him to set up his own commercial print shop in downtown Vancouver. Through the 1950s he designed and printed a lot of beautiful material, including the B.C. Library Quarterly magazine. During this time he also was typographic advisor to the editorial committee at the University of British Columbia.
During the sixties he printed three limited editions - The Journal of Norman Lee (1959), Kuthan's Menagerie of Interesting Zoo Animals (1960), and poet John Newlove's first collection, Grave Sirs: (1962) - before moving to Montreal for a job as director of production and design at McGill University Press. Here he published his magnum opus, The Lande Bibliography of Canadiana. It remains one of Canada's most beautifully crafted books.
In the mid seventies Robert left for New York, where he spent the next 25 years packaging books for major publishers. He returned to Vancouver in 1998 where he continues to participate in the making of beautiful books with, among others, Heavenly Monkey Press, and the Alcuin Society. We met recently in Vancouver to talk about his impressive, life-long achievements.