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.



What is Text? What is Writing? with Ewan Clayton

Special guest lecture open to the public

Monday, Jun. 20, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
admission is free



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.

The Herb Lubalin Lecture Series will be filmed and made available here and on Vimeo with the generous support of Hoefler&Co.

Type@Cooper - What is Text? What is Writing?
What is Text? What is Writing? with Ewan Clayton

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jun. 20, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
location: Rose Auditorium
admission is free

In this lecture Ewan Clayton will ask if writing will survive the digital transformation of our culture and more fundamentally what is writing and what work does it do for us? He sets in context the various crises that surround the order of the written word. Drawing on his previous experience as a consultant to Xerox PARC (the lab where much of  our current information technology was first conceived), Ewan will argue that we have under-conceived what writing is: it is irreducibly pluralistic in nature and not to be equated with any one technology. If true this has implications for how we read the future and for how we educate ourselves as literate citizens.




Register online…

The Graphic Life of Letters in Russian Avant-Garde Book Design with Jared Ash

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

From 1910 through the 1930s, “the book” played a consistently fertile medium for innovation and experimentation among artists of the Russian avant-garde. While constructivist theories and works by El Lissitzky, Alexander Rodchenko, and Il’ia Zdanevich (Iliazd) are generally familiar to type historians, students, and designers, less well known are the neo-primitivist and cubo-futurist publications of the early 1910s that influenced them.
Though the text of these earlier editions is written primarily in manuscript and reproduced through lithography, this talk will highlight specific practices and design elements in them that not only appear later in constructivist typography, but epitomize it. In addition to the afore-listed artist-designers, we also will look at Aleksei Kruchenykh, Vasily Kamensky, Pavel Filonov, Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, and Olga Rozanova, all of whom strove to re-endow the printed word with the same vibrancy and vitality found in ancient texts, sacred manuscripts, painted signboards, and other forms of visually expressive text.




Register online…

Franco Grignani: Graphic and Typographic Freedom with Greg D'Onofrio

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Mar. 07, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Graphic designer, architect, artist and photographer Franco Grignani (1908–1999) was a pioneering figure of mid 20th century Italian design. This talk will focus on his expressive and experimental use of type and graphics in advertising design from the late 1940s thru the 1970s. His work for companies such as Dompé Farmaceutici, Pure Virgin Wool, Pirelli, Pubblicità in Italia and the significant Milan printer Alfieri & Lacroix, is a bold and conscious effort to reject Swiss Constructivism, what he referred to as a “typographical straightjacket” in favor of a more artistic, experimental approach to typography, visual forms and the rules of perception. His distinctive graphic language explores speed, technology and modernity using fragmented and distorted type, optical effects, tension, altered geometry and abstract photography – a visual treat featuring a collection of rarely seen work.




Register online…

Learning from Letraset with Dan Rhatigan

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Feb. 22, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Letraset and other brands of rub-down type literally put typography in the hands of the people. Rub-down type made it possible for students, professionals, and everyone else to design with real typefaces, without needing professional typesetting services. A cheap and easy way to experiment with typography and other graphic elements, Letraset put a lot of care into making type easy to use well, but it also resulted in a lot of ways to use type badly, but with interesting results. With some care and attention, however, it was a great way to develop an eye for typography.

This talk will be a look at Letraset’s type and other graphic supplies, showing how they put the tools of professional design into everyday hands. It will also look at how people had to improvise with Letraset, and make the most of the materials at hand.




Register online…

La Typographie Moderne with Jean-Baptiste Levée

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Feb. 01, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Especially aimed at students, "La typographie moderne" develops the views that animate the design practice of Jean-Baptiste Levée, both in the teaching field and the professional field. From down-to-earth parameters to higher moral considerations, Levée uses several recent case studies and analyzes its own business model. During this overview of references, inspiration sources and work methods displayed through recent projects, one will try to bust a few myths on the way.




Register online…

An H&Co Double Bill: Behind the Scenes of Two Recent Projects with Sara Soskolne

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Dec. 07, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

The typeface families Quarto and Gotham Greek & Cyrillic were both released in the past year, but the thinking and processes behind the development of these two projects couldn't have been more different. Quarto was an act of interpretation, its forms inspired by a historical model from 16th century Flanders; Gotham's language expansion demanded even more of the technical and optical trickery that the family already secretly employs in order to adapt its seemingly simple forms to the Greek and Cyrillic scripts across its exhaustive range of weights and widths. A look at two of the many hats a typeface designer might find herself wearing on any given day.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Expression in Form, Rhythm, & Movement with John Stevens

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

A look at the thematic visual elements and relationships of letterforming from a craft & image-making perspective. Although great skill is required for the best calligraphy, one can get lost in the minutiae. Thinking in terms of visual language (not forgetting content) frees us to say what we really want to say or express. 




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

It Began In Brooklyn: From A to Z & Beyond with Michael Doret

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Nov. 02, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Even if the name Michael Doret doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably more familiar with his work than you may realize. You have most likely seen his logo for the NY Knicks, his  covers for TIME magazine, or for the hardrock group KISS. Michael is one of the most celebrated practitioners of “integrated letterforms”; his award–winning work blurs the distinctions between the worlds of lettering, illustration, and graphic design. 

More recently, Michael has been working in the realm of font design. His font “Deliscript” was accepted for inclusion in the TDC² 2010 Typeface Design competition, and received the Award of Excellence from Communication Arts in 2011. In 2012 both “Dynascript” and “Dynatype” were winners in in the typeface design category in Applied Arts Magazine’s Design Competition. In the same year Michael’s takeoff of Alex Steinweiss’ calligraphy “Steinweiss Script” was awarded Communication Arts Award of Excellence. Most recently in 2014 his attempt to delve into the world of blackletter fonts “Dark Angel” again won CAs Award of Excellence.

In his talk Michael will delve into his past and reveal the primal sources which drive his art: how his environment and surroundings while growing up in Brooklyn made deep and lasting impressions in his young mind which are still strongly evident in his work.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

How Aldus Manutius Saved Western Civilization with G. Scott Clemons

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Oct. 26, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

In the last decade of the 15th century, a middle-aged private tutor named Aldus Manutius made the stunning decision to leave the comfortable employ of a noble family and enter the cutthroat world of printing. The implications of that career change reverberate to this day throughout the worlds of textual criticism, book design, typography, book production, copyright law, collecting and classical philology. Whether by accident or design, Aldus’s decision put him in the right place at the right time to apply the relatively new technology of printing with movable type to the difficult task of printing Greek. As a result, virtually the entire surviving Greek canon found its way into print for the first time, and therefore into posterity.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Humanform Letterform with Sumner Stone

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Aug. 03, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Written, drawn, incised, digitized — letters are made by and for the human body. This presentation will examine the many ways in which letterforms and bodies interact. These include how we use our hands, eyes, and minds to create letterforms by inscribing them in stone, drawing them, writing them with brushes and pens, engraving them in metal, and digitizing them on the screens of computers . We will trace the origins of seven of our twenty-six letters that began as images of our bodies, and we will also look at letters on bodies, letters made of bodies, and bodies made of letters.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Learning To Design The Cherokee Syllabary with Mark Jamra

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jul. 13, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Many issues and questions arise when designing non-Latin forms that lie outside a designer’s experience. How do the history, function and particulars of the Cherokee syllabary affect a type designer’s understanding of typographic communication? Do any of the characteristics of the contemporary, multi-font family actually apply to a syllabary with such a unique history and purpose? This will be a personal account of the lessons learned from a challenging project that's leading to new typographic forms for this particular language.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Type@Cooper - John Baskerville, Letter-founder
John Baskerville, Letter-founder with Ewan Clayton

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jun. 22, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

When Beatrice Warde wrote her review of Baskerville's types in The Monotype Recorder nearly a century ago, she mentioned his debt to the world of the eighteenth century writing masters. In this lecture Ewan Clayton picks up this theme. He examines Baskerville in that context. What we discover is a forgotten tradition of handwritten romans that stretch back to the late sixteenth century. Baskerville was familiar with these forms and his re-engineering of the printing process opened up a channel that permitted them to flow once more into the mainstream of type development.




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Words with Petr van Blokland

Special guest lecture open to the public
Monday, Jun. 15, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

We use them for everything we make, including the body of this message. Yet, we know so little about them. Words. Where does meaning come from? Or betekenis? Or the eppnophonics of a story? Why is writing so hard and reading so easy? A lecture about the process of creation and the education of design. About the flow of language and the typography of text. About bullet lists and code. And what is likely to be the next etcetera.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Ernst Schneidler & His Students with

Special guest lecture open to the public
Tuesday, Apr. 07, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Ernst Schneidler was one of the most influential and beloved teachers of letter arts in the twentieth century, whose students included Georg Trump, Albert Kapr, Imre Reiner, Walter Brudi, and Rudo Spemann. This talk will present a rich selection of the calligraphy, type design and book design of Schneidler and his students in a high definition show and tell from the collection of the Letterform Archive.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Designing Obsidian with Andy Clymer

Special guest lecture open to the public
Tuesday, Mar. 24, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Designers of type and lettering make use of custom tools to draw and manufacture their product, this is as true today as it was in the time of punchcutting and steelplate engraving. After the design of the Surveyor family of typefaces came to a close, an exploration was made into finding an approach where custom tools could be used to help prototype the kinds of highly intricate designs that may have been too complex to otherwise consider putting into development. This process led to the design of Obsidian, a typeface that is elaborately shaded in a style that makes reference to the same nineteenth century tradition of engraved lettering as Surveyor is rooted in. Andy Clymer, a senior designer at Hoefler & Co. and instructor in the Type@Cooper program, will share a look at the design process, the custom tools involved, and some of the unexpected challenges and discoveries found while designing Obsidian.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Type Confusion & Color Aggression with Victor Moscoso and Norman Hathaway

Special guest lecture open to the public
Thursday, Mar. 05, 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Norman Hathaway will interview renowned psychedelic poster artist, hand letterer, underground cartoonist and Cooper Union graduate Victor Moscoso. Moscoso will show examples and discuss his wildly influential methodology, which focuses on negative space, confusing-with-color and the boundaries of legibility, along with his days working in San Francisco during the hippie heyday, interactions with musicians and fly-by-night promoters, his working processes and how artwork was prepared for reproduction. Regarded as one of the foremost graphic artists of the 20th century, Moscoso's work is in the collections of The Louvre, The Museum of Modern Art, The Tate Modern, The Whitney Museum of American Art and others.




Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

Not Dead But Sleepeth: A Study of Gravestone Lettering with Doug Clouse

Special guest lecture open to the public
Tuesday, Feb. 17, 6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Doug Clouse will speak about his research on lettering on nineteenth-century American gravestones and memorials. His work focuses on lettering in the Midwest, with particular attention paid to gravestones in and around Wichita, Kansas and the work of the marble company Kimmerle & Adams. The liveliness and variety of letterforms on memorials by Kimmerle & Adams and other Kansas firms reflect the ambition of pioneer settlers as well as the influence of print typography on inscriptional lettering. The ebullient mix of scripts, slab serifs, serifs, grotesques, and shadowed letters, the way lines of letters curve and angle, and the integration of letters with ornament recall the fancy print typography of the same period, the 1870s and 80s. Clouse will look closely at the letterforms and trace the materials, skills, technologies, and beliefs about death that coalesced to create this brief Midwestern flowering of lettering in marble.





Watch the recorded lecture on Vimeo…

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

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.




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

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

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.




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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

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.




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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

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.




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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.




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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.





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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.




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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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