you become the language

by Art Chantry:

first off – sorry for the bad repro. i didn’t want to bother removing the plastic cover sheet.

this is a book that is exactly what it looks like – a cheezy book covering all the things you want to know – but were afraid to ask. it’s from
1976 – classic mid-70′s ‘high design culture’ work. it’s even peppered with wonderful illustrations by charles bragg (look him up sometime).

AC:i think of herb lubalin as a brilliant designer, but a designer ruined by the demands of making a living.

Art Chantry when i was starting out, he was the standard we all lived up to. then he died and everybody else moved on. but, he was as important to recent design as anything pushpin did (and that includes anything milton glaser did)

but, what i love about this book is the cool design of the cover. it’s such a classic herb lubalin thing that it literally screams out this name. the type selections, the treatments, the color scheme (did you know herb lubalin was color blind?). lubalin was the single most important and influential typographer of the late 60′s, early 70′s. his work and his ideas dominated and defined the decade – to the point of becoming resented by hipsters.

everywhere you looked you saw typefaces he designed – avant garde and lubalin graph being the most derided. he’s the one who instituted the large x-height typography promoted so heavily by ATF. for 20 years everybody used type that had a tall x-height (the actual letter height of the lower case alphabet forms). finally there was total rejection of the look and now it’s been all but abandoned. but, herb lubalin gets the credit/blame for that.

however, also everywhere you looked, you saw magazine, books, posters and projects either designed directly by him (avant-garde, fact, u&lc, audience, even a load of r-rated porn like EROS) or work by designers trained by him. his work was ubiquitous. in fact his work was so powerful and obvious and defining of the 70′s era style that this book here – so obviously his style and work – isn’t by him at all. it’s by a guy named Irving Bogen. never heard of the guy.

you know you hit the pinnacle of design language when your work becomes vernacular homage. when every design ‘speaks’ in your style (accent), then you are no longer a mere design stylist, you ARE the dominant language form. that’s when you know you’ve succeeded as a graphic designer. you BECOME the language.

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