Herb Lubalin

Herb Lubalin

Herb Lubalin was a celebrated twentieth century American graphic designer. He is recognized for his collaboration with Ralph Ginzburg on three of Ginzburg’s magazines. The magazines showcased his artistic skills as he brought out the creative visual beauty of these publications. ITC Avant Garde typeface is one of his creations and it is mostly known for being a revision of art-deco.

On March 17, 1918, Herbert F. Lubalin was born in New York, United States. At the age of seventeen, he was enrolled in a privately funded college located in the East Village, Cooper Union. An array of possibilities offered by the field of typography as a communicative implement fascinated him. Lubalin learned about the fundamentals of typography and was awestruck by the impact a typeface can have if traded with another and how it affects the whole text’s interpretation. Upon receiving his graduation degree in 1939, he had a rough time searching a suitable job. He was able to get a job at a display firm, though he got sacked after requesting a two dollar raise on his weekly salary.

Soon after, Lubalin found work at Reiss Advertising and eventually he was landed a job at Sudler & Hennessey. At S & H he became a practitioner of a wide range of skills. In fact, it was he who attracted talent from multidiscipline, such as design, typography and photography, to the firm. While working there he made associates with George Lois, John Pistilli and Art Kane. He stayed with Sudler & Hennessey for two long decades before he decided to establish his own design firm, Herb Lubalin, Inc in 1964. With the foundation of his private studio he enjoyed the liberty of taking on a variety of art projects. He excelled in a number of projects including poster designing, magazine designing and packaging and identity solutions. Lubalin’s talent was best manifested when he designed Ralph Ginzburg’s succession of magazines; Eros, Fact and Avant Garde.

Ginzburg first launched Eros which was dedicated to beauty and emerging sense of sexuality in the burgeoning counterculture. It had a large format, similar to a regular book rather than a quarterly magazine, with no advertisement. Lubalin’s editorial design for the magazine is considered one of the brilliant of its kind. However, following an obscenity case filed by the US Postal Service against the magazine it immediately folded. In response to the treatment Eros received, Ginzburg and Lubalin launched a second magazine, Fact. The managing editor of Fact Warren Boroson defined it as having spiced up issues instead of sugar-coated pieces like in Reader’s Digest. Lubalin applied an elegant design to the magazine with minimalist palette, based on dynamic serifed typography and exquisite illustrations. Notwithstanding the fact that the magazine received great reviews, it followed the lead of its predecessor and folded. It was a consequence of their publication of an article on the Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, titled “The Unconscious of a Conservative: A special Issue on the Mind of Barry Goldwater” . Goldwater sued the magazine repeatedly and put it out of business eventually.

However, Lubalin and Ginzburg stayed undeterred by demise of one magazine as they released another one by the name Avant Garde. Lubalin created ITC Avant Garde typeface for the magazine. During the last ten years of his life, Herb Lubalin supervised various projects. His most distinguished works include his typographic journal U&lc and the foundation of International Typographic Corporation.