Herb Lubalin (1918 – 1981) renowned graphic designer

Herb Lubalin Poster

A prominent American typographic designer working across a wide range of graphic fields, including posters, ads, signage, postage stamp, typeface and editorial design, Lubalin was recognised as an innovator and iconoclast advent phototypesetting in the 1960s. This allowed him to play with words, images and scale on a page with a considerable licence. 

For a graphic designer, Herb Lubalin had two handicaps: he was colour blind and left-handed. Years later, few graphic designers were as entirely capable of embodying the aesthetics of their times.


He was born in New York to German and Russian parents with a twin brother named Irwin. At the age of 17, Lubalin entered Cooper Union, where he became a master of calligraphy from a poor student. He represented revolutionary American graphic design from the late fifties through the early seventies. The art of photography and illustration was one of the items he identified as “Lubalinesque.” His new eclectic sensitiveness so deeply permeated advertisement, editorial and package design that the period may best be named. His work was a window of opportunity on how emerging technology can alter typographic expression. The type of Lubalin exploded off the printed page and into the consciousness of popular culture.

Professional Career

After completing his studies at the Cooper Union in New York (now the Lubalin Archive) where he graduated in 1939, he worked as a freelance graphic designer and typographer before taking on Art Director position for various agencies, including Sudler & Hennessey (from 1945). In 1964, he founded his own consulting company, Herb Lubalin Inc. (from 1981, with Seymour Chwast and Alan Peckolick (1940–2017), becoming Pushpin, Lubalin, Peckolick Associates Inc.). 

International Typeface Corporation

In 1970, together with Aaron Burns and Ed Rondaler, he formed the International Typeface Corporation to license original typefaces to grant royalties to their creators. 


Herb Lubalin 100 Things Over 100 Days

His typefaces included Avant-garde Gothic (1970, with Tom Carnase), Lubalin Graph (1974) and Serif Gothic (1974, with Tony DiSpigna). In several magazines, including Eros (1962) and Avant Garde (1968), he also played a key design role for a couple of years, and in 1973 he created, designed and edited the influential international type journal U &lc. His work has been recognised internationally through his many publications and various exhibits and awards, including the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) medal in 1981.


D’Onofrio, G., Heller, S. (2017). The Moderns: Midcentury American Graphic Design. United States: ABRAMS.

Oxford University Press. (2004). A Dictionary of Modern Design (1st ed.).

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