Herb Lubalin Lectures Series

The Herb Lubalin Lecture Series is a part of Type@Cooper which is open to the public. Many events in the series are free of charge. The lectures thematically follow the overall curriculum of the program, offering students a deeper insight into specific and relevant topics.

The series is sponsored by Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography at the Cooper Union, a public graphic design archive which places emphasis on a hands-on access to a wide range of design and typography ephemera.

More lectures will be announced soon. To receive notifications when new events are announced, join our mailing list.



Type@Cooper - Calligraphy in Visual Communication
Calligraphy in Visual Communication
with Luca Barcellona

Special guest lecture open to the public

Monday, Oct. 27, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free

Type@Cooper - The Design of the Early Roman Types
The Design of the Early Roman Types
with Sumner Stone

Special guest lecture open to the public

Monday, Nov. 03, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free

Type@Cooper - Special Effects: Tricks of the Sign Painting Trade
Special Effects: Tricks of the Sign Painting Trade
with John Downer

Special guest lecture open to the public

Monday, Nov. 17, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free



Detailed lecture descriptions below

The Type@Cooper program brings to you in close collaboration with the Type Directors Club of New York a this series of lectures, enriching the Extended as well as the Condensed program. The Lubalin Lecture Series is free to attend for the general public. Read detailed descriptions of upcoming as well as passed lectures below. Please direct all inquiries to type@cooper.edu. Your questions will receive the promptest possible reply.


Type@Cooper - Special Effects: Tricks of the Sign Painting Trade
Special Effects: Tricks of the Sign Painting Trade with John Downer

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Nov. 17, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free

A large proportion of a traditional sign painter's knowledge about color combinations, three-dimensional illusions, and decorated letterforms was gained by apprentices who worked in union shops, under the guidance of journeymen. John Downer has been a journeyman sign painter for more than 40 years. He will open his bag of tricks and explain the techniques he learned along the way, including some clever stunts he acquired long after he finished his formal education. Many of the effects can be advantageously applied to display typography.




Register online…


Type@Cooper - The Design of the Early Roman Types
The Design of the Early Roman Types with Sumner Stone

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Nov. 03, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free

Early in the 15th century Poggio Bracciolini, a Humanist scribe who worked for the pope, established a style of writing that laid the groundwork for the first roman typefaces. This style was based on letterforms that had already been obsolete for over a hundred years. They were revived by the Italian Humanists because the manuscripts that contained the Roman literature they so coveted were written in them. The story becomes rich and complex as the century wears on and a fad for finding, observing and recording ancient Roman inscriptions has an important role. Ultimately the designers of the first roman typefaces did not merely copy manuscript forms. They made important design decisions that have effected our letterforms up to the present day.




Register online…


Type@Cooper - Calligraphy in Visual Communication
Calligraphy in Visual Communication with Luca Barcellona

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Oct. 27, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free

This event is presented in cooperation with the Society of Scribes NYC.

When you say the word “calligraphy,” you'll get different reactions: those who practice it have a different and personal idea of this artform, while most think of it as something far from actual visual communication.

In an illustrated slide lecture, Luca Barcellona will analyze some of his artistic and commercial works, showing how calligraphy can be used in many fields of graphic design and communication, interacting with new technologies -- and at the same time, giving his own views on this ancient craft that’s experiencing a new revival today: it can be difficult to recognize its real value without knowing its history and practitioners.

Writing is in constant evolution. Contemporary calligraphers are deciding today the future of hand lettering, which is not clear at all. Will it disappear or will it co-exist with digital devices? The answer is completely in our hands.




Register online…


Type@Cooper - Moses! Pencils! Excelsior! 19th (& 20th) century wood type and its impact on typographic norms
Moses! Pencils! Excelsior! 19th (& 20th) century wood type and its impact on typographic norms with David Shields

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Oct. 20, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Throughout the nineteenth (and early twentieth) century the proliferation of wood type played an integral role in the creation of American visual culture. With the introduction in 1827 of innovative manufacturing techniques affording low cost production (and pirating) as well as the proliferation of a wide range of styles and sizes, wood type gave tremendous impetus to job printing and mass advertising.




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Type@Cooper - 20th Century Metal Type Foundry Ephemera
20th Century Metal Type Foundry Ephemera with Rob Saunders

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Oct. 06, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

As the pace of new type designs accelerated in the early twentieth century, foundries and designers sought to outdo each other in the sumptuous design and production of their ephemeral specimens. They’re exquisite artifacts, but they are also the type designer’s manifesto of intent by example. Rare original examples from 1900 to the mid sixties including all the major designers and foundries of Europe and America will be presented in a superbly photographed high definition show-and-tell.

The specimens will be presented in chronological order and include a balance of popular and obscure, serif and sans, featuring the work of Auriol, Bayer, Behrens, Bernhard, Cassandre, Excoffon, Goudy, Koch, Mendoza, Middleton, Miedinger, Novarese, Oppenheim, Renner, Trump, Weiss, and Zapf; for foundries Amsterdam, ATF, Barnhart Brothers & Spindler, Bauer, Berthold, Deberny & Peignot, Enschede, Haas, Klingspor, Ludlow, Ludwig & Meyer, Monotype, Nebiolo, Schelter & Giesecke, Stempel, and Weber.

This is an expanded version of the talk at TypeCon 2014, now including a sampling of specimens in the Lubalin Center.




Register online…


Type@Cooper - Webfonts are Just Fonts
Webfonts are Just Fonts with Christian Schwartz

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jul. 28, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

As the @font-face feature in CSS and new font formats have been adopted, typography on the web has quickly moved past default system fonts. It's been an exciting few years in which many things have changed, but the shifts have been less fundamental than some people would have you think. Christian Schwartz will discuss his experience of what has changed and what has stayed the same as he and his colleagues at Commercial Type have been swept up in the excitement surrounding webfonts.




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Type@Cooper - Untypical Types
Untypical Types with Matthew Carter

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jul. 14, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Much of my work has been concerned with utilitarian typefaces, self-effacing designs for setting text in newspapers or magazines on paper or online. These have often had to deal with issues of legibility in difficult production situations. On the other hand, from time to time I have had a chance to design types that are less run-of-the-mill, in the sense that they were not primarily meant for text setting or solving technical problems. I describe four of these "untypical" designs in detail, explain the backstory behind the unusual manner in which they came about, and show examples of them in use.




This event has passed


Type@Cooper - Reflections On Gill
Reflections On Gill with Ewan Clayton

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jun. 16, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Eric Gill has been a controversial figure ever since Fiona MacCathy's exposing biography of 1989. As a lettering artist he worked across the field from stone carving to type, calligraphy and engraving. In this lecture Ewan Clayton looks  at the connections between the various crafts he practised and at his influence on subsequent generations. He concludes by posing a new thesis about the framing of Gill's An Essay on Typography.





This event has passed


Type@Cooper - Automotive Identity at General Motors Design
Automotive Identity at General Motors Design with Susan Skarsgard

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jun. 09, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Some of the most beautiful graphic applications of corporate identity design can be found on the chrome "jewelry" of General Motors vehicles. This lecture will present a rich, visual and historic overview of the lettering and emblem design process, illustrated with rarely seen images from the corporate archives.




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Type@Cooper - Comenius, Marconi & Zapf Book: three typefaces from 1976
Comenius, Marconi & Zapf Book: three typefaces from 1976 with Ferdinand Ulrich

Special guest lecture open to the public
Tuesday, Mar. 18, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

In 1976 the International Typeface Corporation celebrated their announcement of a new typeface designed by Hermann Zapf in a folding specimen, claiming it was "his first type since he put the finishing touch to Optima Medium Italic some ten years ago". A headline revealed "Now he's back with an almighty Zapf". Besides the much marketed ITC Zapf Book two other lesser-known typefaces by Zapf were also released that year: Berthold Comenius and Marconi for Hell Digiset. This lecture focuses on all three textfaces by taking a close look at their origin, by comparing them with their contemporaries and by paying attention to their letter shapes and characteristics based on the different technological circumstances in an era on the verge from photo to digital.




This event has passed


Type@Cooper - Down With Buckets
Down With Buckets with Indra Kupferschmid

Special guest lecture open to the public
Tuesday, Mar. 11, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Traditional systems for classifying typefaces are exhausted. Typographers often rant about them, and occasionally propose new models, but we're still mostly stuck using derivatives of a system developed in the 1950s. What can we learn from these classifications, and how can they be improved for the users of type today (and the future)? What systems are as beneficial to working designers as they are to historians and scholars? In this talk Indra Kupferschmid will explain some approaches to type classification and terminology that can be practical for everyone without being limiting.




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Type@Cooper - Typefaces as Strategic Point of Passage
Typefaces as Strategic Point of Passage with Jean François Porchez

Special guest lecture open to the public
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Typography has become a natural extension of the visual identity of the most diverse organizations, governments and businesses, for their publications and products. Typeface design is at a pivotal point in its history, thanks to new creative technologies and uses. Letters and by extension, typographic signs, have always been witness to the conveyance of thoughts between author and reader. Nowadays, the typeset text is not only tied to the world of the books. Since the industrial revolution and the globalization of education, typography has become the gateway to texts and contents, and is a key element of communication between people. We have reached a cross-roads which bears discussion. Let's open a debate about how to address typeface design and its role in the contemporary world, similar to how design and visual identity were formulated during the 1960s.




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Type@Cooper - Tailored Typography
Tailored Typography with Dan Rhatigan

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Oct. 14, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

There are many typefaces available to us today whose forms are inventive solutions to very specific problems of type manufacture, typesetting restrictions, or printing issues. As those designs become part of the overall typographic landscape, it’s easy to forget how closely connected it is to the original problem, or how much potential there is try something new to solve a new problem. Looking at some now-classic typefaces, we’ll see how they turned out the way they did, and hopefully encourage some fresh responses to newer challenges.




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Type@Cooper - Modular Modernism: Supertipo Veloz
Modular Modernism: Supertipo Veloz with Alexander Tochilovsky

Elective for Extended program students and open to the public for a fee (space permitting)
Monday, Apr. 01, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Supertipo Veloz, the typographic system developed by Joan Trochut in 1942, was a collection of modular forms which could easily be combined into typographic or decorative elements. The period following the Spanish Civil War starved small printers of the ability to easily create images. The Veloz system tried to address this problem in order enliven jobbing printing. This talk will discuss the history and context behind this fascinating system.




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