ITC Avant Garde Gothic – Font of the Week

Type Gallery – ITC Avant Garde Gothic

Font Designer: Herb Lubalin/Tom Carnase, 1970

ITC Avant Garde Gothic® was designed by Herb Lubalin and Tom Carnase in 1970. They based it on Lubalin’s logo for Avant Garde Magazine – an exciting construction of overlapping and tightly-set geometric capitals. ITC Avant Garde is a geometric sans serif; meaning the basic shapes are constructed from circles and straight lines, much like the work from the 1920s German Bauhaus movement.
The early versions of ITC Avant Garde became well-known for their many unique alternates and ligatures that still conjure up the typographic aura of the 1970s. Many of these special characters are included in contemporary OpenType versions of the typeface. For example, available are alternative forms of the ‘e’ and ‘f’ and variants of the ‘v’, ‘w’ and ‘y’ that are inclined to the right or left. There are also the numerous ligatures (that are also supplied with foreign language styles of the typeface), providing for a broad variety of options for setting logos and titles.
Still strong and modern looking, ITC Avant Garde has become a solid staple in the repertoire of today’s graphic designer. The large, open counters and tall x-heights seem friendly, and help to make this family work well for short texts and headlines. The condensed weights were drawn by Ed Benguiat in 1974, and the obliques were designed by André Gürtler, Erich Gschwind and Christian Mengelt in 1977. ITC Avant Garde Mono is a monospaced version done by Ned Bunnel in 1983.
Avant Garde with pan-European W1G character sets.
Pan-European W1G character sets of the ten weights of the regular version of Avant Garde were made available at the beginning of this year. Greek and Cyrillic characters have been supplied for all weights, so that each now consists of more than 600 glyphs and can be used to set texts in at least 89 different languages. Similar non-Roman alternatives have been created for each Roman character wherever possible, while some of the special ligatures have been transformed. Thanks to this update, designers working with Greek or Cyrillic texts can now exploit the creative range of Avant Garde to the full. Multinational organisations can use it as their corporate font and adapt their individual designs based on this for use in an even greater variety of languages.
Read on page 4 of a PDF version of issue 1.1 of the typographic magazine Upper and Lower Case, originally published in 1973, an account of the design process of Avant Garde in Herb Lubalin’s own words (pdf file, 5,4 MB).

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