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Designer Forefathers: Herb Lubalin

At Next Day Flyers, we love and respect designers. That’s why we want to expose today’s up-and-coming talent with a bit of a history lesson. Enjoy!

Herb Lubalin (pron. "loob’-allen")
Prominent American graphic designer
1918 – 1981


Herb Lubalin entered Cooper Union in New York at the age of seventeen and was gripped by the possibilities that typography presented. Lubalin was particularly struck by the differences in interpretation that resulted by changing from one typeface to another.

After graduating in 1939, Lubalin had a hard time finding work. He eventually landed at Reiss Advertising and later moved to Sudler & Hennessey where he practiced his skills. He served there for twenty years before leaving to start his own firm in 1964.

Work and Career
Lubalin’s studio gave him the freedom to take on a wide variety of projects, from poster and magazine design to packaging and identity solutions. It was here that the designer became best known, particularly for his work with magazines publisher Ralph Ginzburg

Eros was a quality production with no advertising and a large format (13 by 10 inches) that made it look like a book rather than a magazine. It was printed on different papers and the editorial design was some the greatest that Lubalin ever did.

Fact was marked by an elegant minimalist palette consisting of dynamic serifed typography balanced by high-quality illustrations. The magazine was printed on a budget, so Lubalin stuck with black and white printing on uncoated paper, as well as limiting himself to one or two typefaces.

Avant Garde
The creation of the magazine’s logo was challenging, due to the difficulties of the letterform combinations in the title. Lubalin’s solution consisted of tight-fitting letterform combinations to create a futuristic, instantly recognizable identity. The demand for a complete typefont of Avant Garde was so intense, Lubalin released it in 1970. It would become one of the most widely used typefaces in history.

Avant Garde also provided Lubalin with a large format of wide typographic experimentation; the page format was an almost square 11.25 by 10.75 inches bound in a carboard cover, a physical quality that, coupled with Lubalin’s layouts, caught the attention of many in the New York design scene. Often, the magazine would employ full-page typographic titles, which at the time was a largely new idea.

Lubalin spent the last ten years of his life working on a variety of projects, notably his typographic journal U&lc and the newly founded International Typographic Corporation. U&lc (shorthand for Upper and Lower Case) served as both an advertisement for Lubalin’s designs and an additional arena of typographic experimentation.
Noteworthy logos from the studio of Herb Lubalin.


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