Though ITC Lubalin Graph is an established typeface family in its own right, it was born of the seminal ITC Avant Garde Gothic, which itself was the natural outgrowth of the logo Herb Lubalin designed for the trend-setting Avant Garde magazine. This dramatic sans serif typeface, with its remarkably closely-spaced letters and groundbreaking ligatures, became the magazine’s signature and came also to define the generation’s artistic sensibilities.
Once the typecase was fleshed out into a full upper- and lower-case character set and released as ITC Avant Garde Gothic, Lubalin capitalized on its geometric design by adding heavy slab serifs, reminiscent of the so-called Egyptienne typefaces of the 1930s. The serifs, themselves strongly rectangular in shape, contribute to the typeface’s overall geometric feel and is said to contribute to a sense of stability.
The family was originally released in five weights with corresponding obliques. After being heavily used throughout the latter decades of the 20th century, condensed weights, including all caps and some old style figures, were added to the family in 1992.
ITC Lubalin Graph’s outsize x-heights and open counters contribute to its readability, but strictly geometric letter shapes, unvarying stroke widths and heavy serifs make it unsuitable for continuous text. These same characteristics, however, make it an excellent choice for advertising applications such as logos and other distinctive or identity marking, headlines, and short blocks of text. The same considerations inform the typeface’s use in digital applications: the larger the font size, the more suitable ITC Lubalin Graph will be.