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Work / Publication

Unit Editions’ superb volume of Herb Lubalin’s typography

A new tome from Unit Editions looks at the typographic work of Herb Lublin; a man who was either hugely modest or a massive fibber, claiming that his type work wasn’t really all that. “In fact,” he said, “I’m terrible, because I don’t follow the rules.” The book shows his rebelliousness paid dividends, creating a vast and accomplished body of expressive typographic designs. The publisher has kindly let us publish an extract from the book, which updates Unit Editions’ previous celebrations of Lublin’s graphic design work with new texts, new design, new photography, and lots of previously unpublished material.

Herb Lubalin’s reputation as a designer of type rest with a trio of classic typefaces: Avant Garde Gothic, Serif Gothic and Lubalin Graph. For many, the geometric precision of Avant Garde Gothic defined graphic coolness and modernity; for others, the typeface was “a poor fusion of Helvetica and Futura”, and the abundant supply of ligatures only encouraged misuse by sensation-seeking graphic designers. Tony Di Spigna commented: “The first time Avant Garde was used was one of the few times it was used correctly. It’s become the most abused typeface in the world.” But it is by Avant Garde Gothic and Lubalin’s reputation as a type designer will always be measured. He created – in partnership with Carnase – a font that has a strong following among young designers today, who prize its well-tooled geometric clarity.

A serifed version of Avant Garde, called Lubalin Graph, was designed by Lubalin and drawn by Tony Di Spigna and Joe Sundwall. Like an updated Rockwell, this slab serif typeface retains many similarities to Avant Garde Gothic. It has the same large x-height, a set of ligatures, and a variety of alternative capital letters. Tony Di Spigna and Lubalin and Carnase – for a French shirt company, but the work was rejected and Di Spigna expanded it into a full-blown typeface.

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Unit Editions: Herb Lubalin: Typographer

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Unit Editions: Herb Lubalin: Typographer

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Unit Editions: Herb Lubalin: Typographer

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Unit Editions: Herb Lubalin: Typographer

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Unit Editions: Herb Lubalin: Typographer