LP: From looking through these books and from flipping through magazines from the early 1970s, it seems like often the concept or solution to almost any ad or design was entirely typographic. Can you tell me a little about Herb Lubalin? I've heard his name for a very long time - I see it again and again in these early 1970s NYAD Annuals - and I'm wondering if he was one of the people who shifted the visual landscape in commercial art.
MT: Absolutely. He was an "illustrator with type."
Herb was the most talented and best graphic designer I ever worked for. Whether it was when he was with U&lc (Upper & Lower Case) or some other client, he made every job I ever did for him look infinitely better after he got through with it.
(Below, the December 1979 issue of U&lc, art by Murray Tinkelman, design by Herb Lubalin)
MT: He would make additions - not on my art, but in the typography and design - he was a genius; a true, true genius.
(Below, from the 50th NYAD Annual, design & art direction by Herb Lubalin, 1970)
LP: And the thing is, Murray, I can't help but think that the beauty of working with type - in the manner Herb Lubalin did - is lost on most of today's designers. Do you know what I mean?
MT: Yes I do.
LP: Like, I don't think there's that same appreciation for how beautiful and vital letterforms are, the way it was when he and his fellow designers... When I look at that early '70s period in graphic arts, that typifies that period; that loving treatment of typography at that time.
MT: Yes it does. And the use of hand lettering. Tom Carnase did a lot of the hand lettering for Lubalin.
(Below, from the 50th NYAD Annual, hand lettering by Tom Carnase, design & art direction by Herb Lubalin, 1970)
MT: It was, in those ways, really a golden era and I was lucky to have come on the scene at that time and work with Herb Lubalin. You know, in one of our earlier conversations I mentioned that breakthrough I had at the Saturday Evening Post... and Herb Lubalin was acting art director at the Post when that piece got published.
LP: Oh my gosh!
(Below, Saturday Evening Post DPS by Murray Tinkelman, October 1961, art direction by Herb Lubalin)
MT: Yeah. I did a painting, 18" square of this wolverine and it had a tree in the background and a little bear climbing the tree and a little collage butterfly, a pink sky... and when I picked up the magazine at a newsstand; seeing it printed for the first time ever, I thought, "My God! Where's my piece?! It's been destroyed!" And then it took about ten seconds for me to realize it was so much better now, with all that crap removed and his incredible typography surrounding what was left of my painting. (Murray chuckles)
That got in every show; it got in the Type Directors' Show (not because of my painting, because of Herb's type), it got into the Art Directors' Show (because of Herb's art direction), it got into the Illustrators' Show (that, at least, was because of my painting).
LP: Although this early '70s ad series below isn't by Herb Lubalin, I find it demonstrates in the most spectacular fashion the effectiveness of strong typography as an integral element in a powerful graphic design.
LP: Lubalin said "You can do a good ad without good typography but you can't do a great ad without good typography." I think this series proves his point.
* Murray Tinkelman has won Gold Medals from The Society of Illustrators, The New York Art Directors Club and The Society of Publication Designers. He has over 200 Awards of Merit from The Society of Illustrators. Murray is the director of Hartford Art School’s limited-residency Master of Fine Arts in Illustration program.
* Many thanks to Tony Gleeson for providing the scans of the Audi Fox ad series