AIGA Medalist Susan Kare

by Zachary Crockett

No great technological revolution can succeed without an artistic sleight of hand. Susan Kare, known as the “woman who gave the Macintosh a smile,” has spent her three-decade career at the apex of human-machine interaction. Through her intuitive, whimsical iconography, she made the graphic user interface accessible to the masses, and ushered in a new generation of pixel art.

In the early 1980s, Kare—then a sculptor and tech-world outsider—pivoted to a graphic designer role at Apple. There, she created some of the most recognizable icons, typefaces, and graphic elements in personal computing: the command symbol (⌘), the system-failure bomb, the paintbrush, and, of course, “Clarus the Dogcow.” With little more than a few dots on a screen, Kare created a canvas of approachable visual metaphors that are instantly recognizable decades later.

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