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Scott and Piper

Here: A lengthy interview by Steven Heller in AIGA Voice.

Scott-Martin Kosofskys work in design began informally in the late 1970s as a path to explore his passionate interest in typography and printing, a hobby that began in high school. Scott was then a working musician with an international competition win and several commercial recordings to his credit. The Philidor Press, as he called it then, literally took over his life as his Boston South End apartment became filled with banks of type cases in the living room and a Vandercook letterpress in the dining room. 

    What was little more than aspirational in the beginning eventually became good enough to attract customers. Scott’s first clients were music groups, music publishers, and record companies, who were happy to work with someone who understood what they were doing. Then came rare book dealers and small publishers, such as David R. Godine. For the Boston Early Music Festival he created a distinctive visual style and some much-admired publications. This established Philidor as a company that could handle many aspects of publishing, from editing and typesetting through design and production—and even advertising sales and management.

    Scott’s first foray into Judaica, the work that would come to define his career, began somewhat ironically. In the early 1980s, he designed various mailers and program books for the organization Revels, Inc., which by then had become a beloved Boston-area tradition through its Christmas Revels performances at Harvard’s Sanders Theatre. The most elaborate of these was the Christmas Revels Songbook, published by David R. Godine in 1985. (The book is still in print.) The songbook came to the notice of people at Harvard Hillel, who, at the time, were hoping to produce a Shabbat songbook, and wished to make a book that had a visual style similar to the Revels book, illustrated with historical woodcuts. The Harvard Hillel Sabbath Songbook (1992) was an instant success and it led to a flurry of Judaic projects, including The Jews of Boston (1995 and 2005) and Silver Torah Ornaments at The Jewish Museum, New York (1996) . . . and eventually dozens more.

    Scott is also a writer and editor. His The Book of Customs: A Complete Handbook for the Jewish Year was published by HarperOne in 2004 and was winner of a National Jewish Book Award in 2005. He has written articles on subjects as diverse as John Singer Sargent’s murals at The Boston Public Library (Boston Globe) to a remembrance of the great Dutch musician Frans Brüggen to the teaching of graphic design history, as well as lengthy reviews of books in graphic design and Jewish studies. A number of them may be found here.

    For many years, Scott was an active participant in Boston’s cultural life. He was a co-founder and president of the Boston Early Music Festival and served for eleven years as a trustee of the Associates of the Boston Public Library. He served many years as a council member and president of Boston’s Society of Printers, for whom he developed and edited its centennial volume of essays, The SP Century.

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