By far, the most influential and successful type foundry of the 1970s and well into the 1980s was International Typeface Corporation.
For nearly four decades, ITC has designed and marketed typefaces to creative professionals. The ITC® Library – comprised of more than 1,650 designs – features the work of world-class typeface designers.
Some of ITC’s most esteemed designs include the ITC Avant Garde Gothic family – a typeface designed by Tom Carnase based upon Herb Lubalin’s logo for Avant Garde magazine – as well as the ITC Berkeley Oldstyle design, a revival of Fredric Goudy’s serifed custom typeface for the University of California Press at Berkley. Other watershed revivals include the handsome ITC Garamond and robust ITC Franklin Gothic families.
The ethos driving International Typeface Corporation’s formation is as profound as the typefaces they produce:
ITC began as Lubalin, Burns & Co and called itself “the first typo-graphics agency.” Aaron Burns, Lubalin’s partner in the company, was one of the most successful type salespersons and marketers of the 1960s. One of his first companies, Aaron Burns & Co., was actually a division of one of New York’s then largest and most successful typesetting houses. Jobs that were sent to Aaron Burns & Co received special attention under the watchful typographic eye of Burns – and were billed at a premium for the service. While Aaron Burns & Co was a good moneymaker; Burns still longed to have his own company.
In 1970 Burns and Herb Lubalin joined forces to sell phototypesetting, lettering and typographic design services to New York advertising agencies and design studios. Their company, cleverly called Lubalin, Burns & Co, also offered several typeface designs created by Lubalin and his staff that could be purchased nowhere else; among them Avant Garde Gothic.
Jobs poured into the company. Burns – the consummate promoter and businessman – figured that if his exclusive typesetting company could be successful in New York, it would be equally so in other large cities. Shortly after Lubalin, Burns & Co was formed, Lubalin, Burns Affiliates, Ltd was also launched. The idea behind Lubalin, Burns Affiliates was that there would be an “affiliate” company in each American city large enough to support a typesetting community. The affiliate would be an existing typesetting house, which would be provided with an on-going stream of new typeface designs. The typesetting house would then pay a fixed monthly fee for the fonts – and for the association with Burns and Lubalin. The problem was, Lubalin and Burns did not have the capabilities to make phototype fonts – especially for text setting equipment.
In an attempt to solve the dilemma, Burns approached his good friend Mike Parker, who was then Director of Typeface Development at Linotype. Burns’ pitch to Parker was that Linotype manufacture fonts of his and Lubalin’s typefaces and provide them to one Linotype typesetting shop in each major American city. Parker wisely saw that if Linotype provided exclusive fonts to just one customer in a city, every other Linotype customer would be more than a little upset. Parker counseled, instead, that Burns take his idea to the next step. “Why not license your designs to every manufacturer of phototypesetting equipment,” he suggested, “and let them pay you a royalty on every font they sell that has one of your designs?”
ITC was born out of this conversation. Within three years, virtually every manufacturer of phototypesetting equipment was offering ITC fonts to their customers. Indeed, ITC was one of the first font providers to embrace digital technology – a harbinger of the future of typographic design and distribution. Additionally, Burns and Parker were also committed to licensing fonts in hardware based on royalty revenues, a notion that still informs the typographic market today.
In addition to crafting typefaces, ITC also left an indelible mark on the genre of typography-focused publications – in 1974 ITC began publishing U&lc, The International Journal of Typographics. Herb Lubalin was the editorial and art director of the first issue and his seminal design set the stage for future issues of trend setting and award winning editorial creations.
The modest 24-page first issue declared, “U&lc will provide a panoramic window, a showcase for the world of graphic arts – a clearing house for the international exchange of ideas and information.”
And, indeed, it did. Over the 26 years that it was published, U&lc gathered a following of thousands of avid readers that eagerly anticipated each issue. It became the most important typographic publication of its time. While a couple of years lacked a full complement, U&lc was published quarterly, in its – large format – tabloid size, until the fall of 1999. Early publications were limited to black and white, and color was introduced in 1988.
Now a part of Monotype Imaging, ITC continues true to its heritage, releasing exceptional type families crafted by exceptional designers.
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