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Alan Peckolick, Originator of Movement to Push Typography Into Forefront of Graphic Design, to Speak at UB March 6

His 'Expressive Typography' Work in the 1960s and '70s Changed Graphic Design, Opening New Frontiers for Hand-Crafted Lettering

January 28, 2014
Contact: University Relations
Phone: 410.837.5739

PLEASE NOTE: Due to an injury, Alan Peckolick is unable to be at the University of Baltimore on Thursday, March 6. This event will be rescheduled.

Alan Peckolick, leader of a graphic design movement in the 1960s and '70s known as expressive typography and a master of designing letters in order to wholly integrate them—and sometimes to let them take the lead—in a given design, will speak at the University of Baltimore on Thursday, March 6 at 6 p.m. Presented by UB's Ampersand Institute for Words & Images, Peckolick's talk will take place in the M. Scot Kaufman Auditorium in the William H. Thumel Sr. Business Center (home of the Merrick School of Business), 11 W. Mt. Royal Ave. The talk is free and open to the public.

Peckolick's 2013 book, Teaching Type to Talk, compiles the best of his internationally-recognized work, alongside his anecdotes about how his eye-popping posters, logos and other graphic pieces came together. Peckolick will sign copies of the book following his presentation.

A 1964 graduate of the Pratt Institute, Peckolick was mentored by the legendary graphic designer Herb Lubalin. In 1968 the former opened his own design office, then in 1972 he joined the Lubalin, Smith & Carnase firm, which eventually became Lubalin Peckolick Associates.

Throughout his career, especially in the late '60s and into the mid-'70s, Peckolick focused on what could be done with typography to make it more than an informational element, a bit of an afterthought, within the realm of graphic design. He began to look at letters for their shape and their ability to communicate of their own accord. Eventually, his work sparked the expressive typography movement, adding enormous energy and craftsmanship to the field—a phenomenon still visible today in the form of a logo that integrates a pictorial element within a letter or a word.

Peckolick did logos and corporate identities for a wide range of companies and organizations, including Revlon and New York University. He has designed countless annual reports, for General Motors, Pfizer, AT&T and many others, and has worked for international corporations like Mercedes-Benz and Sony. Along the way, he has earned more than 500 design awards, including six gold medals from the Art Directors Club of New York. Since 1998, he has been a painter, with his work shown in galleries around the world.

Ed Gold, director of the Ampersand Institute and professor in UB's Klein Family School of Communication Design, will conduct a question-and-answer session with Peckolick as part of the evening's presentation.

"I want talk with him about how we, as designers and creative people, can make the most of typography in our work," Gold said. "Alan is able to see letters not just as they are, but as they could be, and consistently he brought both this wild energy and a devotion to craft into design—it had a huge impact on the field."

In modern graphic design, Gold said, the use of computers and graphic design software has somewhat relegated type to a purely informational role. Peckolick, Lubalin and others considered the lettering of a poster to be just as important as the illustration itself.

"They changed the focus from just the picture, to the picture and the lettering, and sometimes to just the lettering on its own," Gold explained. "This required painstaking work, by hand and by eye. It's a talent that not enough graphic designers possess today. And it's a movement that is worth revisiting, and even restarting."

More information about Peckolick's talk is available by calling 410.837.6022.

The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.