Phil Lubliner

 
Phil
Lubliner’s world is layered with language. In his illustrations as
well as his fine-art installations, a lexicon of evocative
words—“soapy,” “frontier,”
“lightning,” “rice”—falls out of the sky,
flashes from electric signs, and floats on the surface of the American
landscape. Hand-drawn or molded from clay, each word has a personality
made manifest by Lubliner’s sweetly scribbly aesthetic.

He
suggests that his love of letters and landmarks might stem from memories
of his childhood vacations, from “being on the road and seeing all
of that very repetitive imagery of small towns in the Midwest.”
Lubliner’s grandmother was an interior designer; his father is an
antiques dealer. “We always had a house full of weird
antiques—really cool pieces of type and Americana, old ’50s
and ’60s vernacular American advertising, and Old West
stuff.” While other children were at summer camp, Lubliner was
accompanying his father on road trips to antique malls and fairs.

A
native Chicagoan, Lubliner graduated from Brooklyn’s Pratt
Institute. His first major freelance commissions came from Nylon
magazine, then art directed by Andrea Fella—coincidentally, the
daughter of Ed Fella, the graphic designer whose experiments with
hand-written typography are an inspiration to Lubliner. The young
artist’s Nylon work was bright and fizzy: a witty map of
American summer musical festivals; a list of essential soundtracks with
the movie titles relettered as though patiently doodled by a teenage
cinephile. “There’s definitely a childlike feeling to
it,” says Lubliner. “I don’t really trace things out;
I make mistakes and work them into the pieces. My line quality itself is
a little bit shaky.”

Lubliner worked as a full-time staff
designer at R/GA before taking on stints at Renegade and Framfab NL and
working on assignments from small magazines like Good and
Arkitip. Jonathan Notaro, the founder of Brand New School,
admires the humor and intricacy of Lubliner’s work. “I
don’t see anyone with the attention span of Phil,” Notaro
says. “He can sit there and spend forever drawing one
letter.”

Lubliner now works from a tiny storefront studio in
Brooklyn. He shares the space with Gary Fogelson, with whom he created
The Holster, an art-zine collective. Lubliner’s zines add a touch
of surrealism to his sunny vision of American leisure time: In one
spread, divers leap from a flying pizza into an inviting
lake.

Lubliner seems most excited at the moment about his installation
pieces, which he calls “mini-dioramas,” of painted clay
lettering situated among “landscapish things” and set in
found frames. He’s happiest when his fine art and commercial work
merge, as they did when he helped design Comcast’s TheSlowskys.com
website, developed by the New York design studio Honest. The Slowskys,
two turtles who really like slow internet speeds, have mistakenly
imagined that a web-site is something that can be built in the physical
world—in this case, out of a dresser-like piece of furniture,
decorated with hand-lettered signs, in their living room.

The
Slowskys’ roof deck is outfitted with a swimming pool, slide, and
palm trees. It’s a very Lublineresque scene that neatly sums up
his meticulous craftmanship and mellow personality. He blushes and
admits, “I like to chill out a lot.”

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