~ Annual Todd-Fest ~ 

Held EVERY year, usually around September/October. Every year’s dates fluctuate.
Please contact us for this year’s dates.

Where: Tofte/Carlton Peak area, many of us stay near Lutsen for the weekend.
Timing: We arrive Friday, hike to the peak on Saturday, do touristy stuff on Sunday. Most of us leave Monday morning.

It’s a weekend of amazing friendship, laughter, stories, reminiscing and love of that great guy known as Todd. I’m personally amazed that it’s continued now for over 13 years and still, many come and we always have a fantastic time! It’s not often that you can have a weekend with 15+ people and everyone gets along. It’s just another testament to the power of Todd.


Todd circa 1970

Todd apJones


Todd apJones was an original: irrepressible, infinitely talented, and full of impassioned grace.

His career as a hand-lettering artist made an indelible imprint on contemporary commercial culture. The easy elegance of his hand is nearly ubiquitous, gracing products on supermarket shelves, advertisements, magazines, catalogs, corporate collateral and music-industry merchandise. And Now for the Hard Part, a retrospective array of Todd apJones’s innovation, includes design, logos, products and works on paper.

Born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Todd was raised in Edina and built his career living in Minneapolis’s Uptown. Self-taught, he combined native aptitude with carefully honed technique. His love of the “how” of written language — hand-wrought gesture, the active potential of letter forms, the subtle connotations of line and evocations of style — was intuitive and far-ranging. His imaginative promise and witty flexibility were already evident in a psychedelic Levi’s advertisement he mocked-up as a teenager. Over the next 30-plus years, his work displayed mechanical virtuosity, design innovation and uncommon versatility with lettering. It also demonstrated his keen sensitivity to the psychology of handwriting as an externalization of personality.

Among Todd’s papers was a “biographical” statement that captured his sensibility. He imagined himself “possessed by some turn of the century French artist.” Todd described this spirit as a taunting force, mocking his ability when he would close his eyes at night. Eventually, the spirit fled and the mocking stopped. Todd described his tormentor as one that left permanent scars, providing “another set of tools to bend and to stretch.”

Perhaps a phrase found in his portfolio, “Taking the World by Form,” most aptly encapsulates Todd’s career. His impressive national client list included Harley-Davidson, Betty Crocker, Neiman Marcus, Simon & Schuster, Disney, Target, Nordstrom, Degrippes Gobe, Sears, Victoria’s Secret, Northwest Airlines, Pillsbury, General Mills and Musicland. He created logos for Hanes, Chopin Vodka, Tony’s Pizza, Hormel, Old Forrester, Land O’Lakes and Cinnabon, among others. He titled John Lithgow’s Micawber, Ja Rule’s “The Last Temptation,” and Jennifer Lopez’s “This is me… Then,” for which he also lettered lyrics and liner notes.

A vital part of the Twin Cities’ design community, Todd did the Wedge Co-op logo redesign, Campiello’s menus, the Dayton-Hudson logo, the 20th annual Twin Cities Marathon collateral, and pro-bono calligraphy for the 2002-03 Poetry in Motion series installed throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul transit system.

Todd’s dexterity, his stylistic range and illustrational impulse – and the warmth that distinguished his hand – were complimented by his private artwork. Without the need to work within commercial parameters, Todd experimented with color and idiosyncratic subject matter — baby carriages, early bicycle models, firearms, alphabets and musical instruments. Each was an obsession, the object of inventive, repeat consideration. His fascination with urns and vases, for example, delighted in elegant forms retained from ancient Greek and Roman sources. These works reveal agility, intuition, pleasure in materials, mastery of hand and tool and Todd’s joy in the process of making.

Organizing this exhibition has been bittersweet, a celebration of a great talent and a lament for a friend now gone. The exhibition’s title, “And Now for the Hard Part,” comes from an advertisement for premium fishing fly rods made by the R.L. Winston Rod Co. Rendered in Todd’s hand, the line is followed by another: “Which Winston?” The question — one of choice — suggests the subtle inflections and distinctions, the formal and stylistic selectivity that were the essence of Todd’s work. The title also evokes the personal impetus behind this posthumous presentation. The hardest part, for all of us, is saying goodbye.

Lisa Fischman
A former resident of Minneapolis and a long time friend of Todd’s, Lisa Fischman is the Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director, at Davis Museum, Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. She is also the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Surf Point Foundation in York, Maine.