The origins of the name

Lettering by Tom Carnase for a booklet by Lubalin, Burns and Co., 1970

The name of the Typographics conference comes from a term often used by Herb Lubalin and Aaron Burns 50 years ago to describe typography and lettering at its best: compelling design that evokes moods and memories, or just gets your attention. The word is deceptively simple. At first read it seems just to refer to typography, as in mechanical typesetting with prefabricated fonts, but reading more closely you recognize that it entwines two concepts: Typo and Graphics. It ties the practice of graphic design together with an active engagement with the shape of words and letters.

The best examples of this approach create active participation, an active reader, because it works both as text and image. Herb Lubalin, one of the most consistent practitioners of typo-graphics, described his approach: “...I am interested in type forms and in the use of typography as an illustrative medium where the words become more expressive than they actually are.” Lubalin, Burns, and their contemporaries helped revolutionize American advertising, by making text visually more playful, and more central to the overall design of the ad, rather than simply being a caption to an image.

The ties to Herb and Aaron at Cooper Union are very strong, as the Herb Lubalin Study Center houses their archives. The revival of this term for this conference seems a fitting homage to their legacy. Their outlook was always towards the future. Typographics 2015 will provide a platform for emerging & established designers to gauge where typography is today and where its future may lie.


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