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Letraset, Lubalin and ligatures – in newsprint

By Mark Sinclair Two things close to Unit Editions’ heart – Letraset and Herb Lubalin – came together recently in the form of a broadsheet newspaper produced by the Herb Lubalin Study Center and Adobe Type’s Dan Rhatigan. Made in collaboration with Newspaper Club, ‘100% Lubalin Letraset’ was created for Day 90 of the Center’s #Lubalin100 project that has been celebrating the designer’s centenary. The newspaper features 17 images of Lubalin’s typefaces as they appeared on sheets of the lettering system in the 1970s. Each sheet comes from Rhatigan’s own collection and he introduces the paper with a text on Lubalin’s International Typeface Corporation (ITC), the foundry that the US designer launched with Aaron Burns and Edward Rondthaler in 1970. ITC...

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‘You feel you’re there – in his head’. On the appeal of Lance Wyman’s sketchbooks

By Mark Sinclair Designer Jim Sutherland recently tweeted his admiration for US graphics legend Lance Wyman’s sketchbook work, which is collected together in our book, Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries 1973-1982. What is it about preparatory drawings, work-in-progress doodles and annotated ideas on paper that people find so appealing? We asked Sutherland about what this insight into Wyman’s working practice gave him – and how sketching fits into his own graphic design practice. Limited copies of Lance Wyman: The Visual Diaries are still available from the Unit shop. Mark Sinclair: What does seeing Wyman’s sketch work presented like this mean to you as a designer? Jim Sutherland: I love seeing the thought process and progression of ideas. From initial sketches and variations to the final iterations...

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How I made Letraset: an interview with Freda Sack

Over the next few weeks we’re featuring a selection of highlights from our Letraset book, our visual history of the rubdown lettering system that revolutionised typographic expression. For our second extract, we have an interview with type designer and typographer, Freda Sack, who joined Letraset in the 1970s and worked in its Type Studio. While there she perfected the art of cutting master letterforms from Rubylith using tools that she made and customised herself. Adrian Shaughnessy talked to her about her fascinating career. (Our first post looked at how Letraset became a staple of the DIY attitude to music-making in the late 1970s early 80s.) Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution is available now from the Unit Editions shop. The negative film masters and...

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Letraset, design and music

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be featuring a selection of highlights from our Letraset book, our visual history of the rubdown lettering system that revolutionised typographic expression. In our first post we look at how Letraset helped to bring about the visual language of punk and became a staple of the DIY attitude to music-making established in the late 1970s and early 80s. Letraset: The DIY Typography Revolution is available now from the Unit Editions shop. In recent years, articles on Letraset have appeared in leading design magazines, and events have been held celebrating the craft and expert knowledge that underpinned the making of the Letraset typographic system. This enthusiasm extends to a new younger generation of designers who have known nothing but the computer screen and...

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Impact 1.0 & 2.0: Type only!

This month we’re featuring highlights from our two-volume Impact books that bring together some of the best covers created for design magazines and journals from the 1920s to the present day (both are now £29 each in the Unit shop, or available as a bundle for £50). For our fourth post, we’re putting the focus on type – and looking at some of the most interesting typographic approaches to covers that feature in the two books. [Our first post, on Swiss titles from the mid-1950s, is here; our second, on 1960s type and pattern experiments, is here; our third, on IDEA magazine, is here.] Type-based covers have been a staple of design magazines since their inception. Some of the fine examples of designs for both Grafische...

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Impact 1.0 & 2.0: IDEA magazine

This month we’re featuring highlights from our two-volume Impact books that bring together some of the best covers created for design magazines and journals from the 1920s to the present day (both now £29 each in the Unit shop). For our third post, we’ve picked four covers from Japan's IDEA magazine. [Our first post, on Swiss titles from the mid-1950s, is here; our second, on 1960s type and pattern experiments, is here.] Founded in 1953, IDEA is a quarterly showcase of graphic design, typography and communications. Since its earliest editions it has spotlighted various areas of design practice by approach and also location. During the 1950s and 60s, for example, it reported on design work from specific parts of Japan – from the Hokuriku District to Hokkaido –...

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Impact 1.0: The 1960s and visual experimentation

This month we’re featuring highlights from our two-volume Impact books that bring together some of the best covers created for design magazines and journals from the 1920s to the present day (both now £29 each in the Unit shop). For our second post, we’ve picked four magazine covers from the 1960s that show some of the experimental approaches in type and pattern that design titles were using at the time. [Our first post, on Swiss titles from the mid-1950s, is here.] Canadian designer Carl Dair designed all six issues of A Typographic Quest, a slim booklet that was published as the house journal of the West Virginia Pulp and Paper Company (Westvaco) in 1964. Shown above is the cover of its second issue which...

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Impact 1.0: Swiss magazine covers from the 1950s

This month we’re featuring highlights from our two-volume Impact books that bring together some of the best covers created for design magazines and journals from the 1920s to the present day (both now £29 each in the Unit shop). For our first post, we’ve picked four great Swiss magazine covers from the 1950s that employ minimal techniques for maximum effect. [Our second post, on 1960s experiments with type and pattern, is here.] By the early 1950s, both the Zürich-based Graphis magazine and Bern's Typographische Monatsblätter journal were well-established Swiss design titles – founded in 1944 and 1933, respectively. The two Graphis covers shown here, for issues 46 and 50, date from 1953 and together illustrate the clean slate approach that the magazine took...

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Rick Poynor on the posters of the National Theatre.

Rick Poynor is a writer and critic, and Professor of Design and Visual Culture at the University of Reading. He is the author of numerous books on design and visual culture, and was the founding editor of Eye magazine. In 2017, he curated an exhibition of the posters advertising the plays of the National Theatre. He also wrote and edited a book (National Theatre: A Design History) celebrating half a century of the NT’s poster designs, which Unit Editions was delighted to publish. In this interview, Rick discusses key issue surrounding the posters and their role in the promotion and visualisation of theatrical performances.  

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Ben Bos (1930—2017)

For Ben Bos’s 80th birthday in 2010, his wife Elly Bos asked Adrian Shaughnessy to write a short text about Ben for inclusion in the book she produced as a birthday celebration. This is a slightly edited version of that text. _ When Elly Bos asked me to write an introduction to a book celebrating Ben’s 80th birthday, I did something I hadn’t done before, I read Ben’s biography Design of a Lifetime. I knew the book well, but I only knew it as a compendium of Ben’s striking graphic design. I hadn’t read the text. This was remiss of me: the text is extraordinary. Ben’s place in graphic design history is secure. At its best, his design is characterised by...

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