Who haven’t heard the phrase that ‘any past time was better’?. Although I sometimes find this phrase a little too pessimistic (because I try to think that the best is yet to come), it may be true regarding my passion, typography. I’m too young (29) unfortunately, and this means I did not have the pleasure of being contemporary with maybe the man who has influenced my work the most (1). The man that showed that letters are more than just letters to be read. Herb Lubalin (1918-1981), also called sometimes as ‘the rule basher’ (2), smashed the taboos and sacred rules of type design and gave it personality. He rejected the functionalist philosophy of europeans in favor of an eclectic and exuberant style. To him, letters were not merely vessels of form, they were objects of meaning. (3). Nowadays, when looking at his portfolio, who dares to deny that the term ‘typography’ and ‘beauty’ may go hand-in-hand without any problem? Ed Benguiat, one of Herb’s partners, still likes making jokes with the phrase “screw legibility, type should be beautiful” and what I understand of this is not to forget the rules, but to know and break them carefully.
In an era of pure eclecticism, we, the lovers of flourishes and swashes, can’t do nothing but admire all the legacy that Lubalin, this wonderful type-guru, left.
My font Lubaline read as “the line of Lubalin” is my humble tribute to him. Those who know his work, may see the influences easily like in his ‘Beards’ (1976) and ‘The Sound of Music’ (1965) posters; the art-deco forms in many of his amazing logos and practically in all his creations where letters seem to be alive just like you and me.
I really hope that the future finds me still learning more and more about type-design and letterforms, and like him, always willing to make innovations in my field: Because letters are not just letters to be read.