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Dimensions: 30 x 36 inches
Media: Inkjet on matte paper
Created using Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, ink, and handwritten calligraphy

Artist's statement: Letter 85 was written to a woman who is still unknown to this day. The opening sentence of the letter states, “In answer I must say that my life has been so uneventful that there is little in it to interest anyone.” Paul Laurence Dunbar wrote this letter explaining the “uneventful” occurrences that he had experienced, beginning at his birth in Dayton, Ohio. Dunbar continues on in the letter brushing through age 12, when he first began writing, then to age 14, which was the year of his first publication. Throughout the letter, Paul lists all of these great accomplishments that some can only dream of having, yet he can never seem to give himself the credit he deserves, hence the title.

Typography palette: The two typefaces aid in readability, but also allow for a more personal feeling to the letter. The calligraphy-based typeface Annabelle JF was constructed by Jason Walcott. The other typeface used is Big Caslon CC, designed by Matthew Carter. It is all presented on an aged-looking page that was created to resemble the paper on which Dunbar’s letters were written. The overall message and tone of this piece unmasks the modest and almost unknowing outlook that Dunbar saw his life to be.

Publication Date

Fall 10-23-2023


Paul Laurence Dunbar, Poster, Letter, Typography, Graphic Design, University of Dayton, Dayton Metro Library, Ohio History


Graphic Design




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