PhilLubliner’s world is layered with language. In his illustrations aswell as his fine-art installations, a lexicon of evocativewords—“soapy,” “frontier,”“lightning,” “rice”—falls out of the sky,flashes from electric signs, and floats on the surface of the Americanlandscape. Hand-drawn or molded from clay, each word has a personalitymade manifest by Lubliner’s sweetly scribbly aesthetic.
Hesuggests that his love of letters and landmarks might stem from memoriesof his childhood vacations, from “being on the road and seeing allof that very repetitive imagery of small towns in the Midwest.”Lubliner’s grandmother was an interior designer; his father is anantiques dealer. “We always had a house full of weirdantiques—really cool pieces of type and Americana, old ’50sand ’60s vernacular American advertising, and Old Weststuff.” While other children were at summer camp, Lubliner wasaccompanying his father on road trips to antique malls and fairs.
Anative Chicagoan, Lubliner graduated from Brooklyn’s PrattInstitute. His first major freelance commissions came from Nylonmagazine, then art directed by Andrea Fella—coincidentally, thedaughter of Ed Fella, the graphic designer whose experiments withhand-written typography are an inspiration to Lubliner. The youngartist’s Nylon work was bright and fizzy: a witty map ofAmerican summer musical festivals; a list of essential soundtracks withthe movie titles relettered as though patiently doodled by a teenagecinephile. “There’s definitely a childlike feeling toit,” says Lubliner. “I don’t really trace things out;I make mistakes and work them into the pieces. My line quality itself isa little bit shaky.”
Lubliner worked as a full-time staffdesigner at R/GA before taking on stints at Renegade and Framfab NL andworking on assignments from small magazines like Good andArkitip. Jonathan Notaro, the founder of Brand New School,admires the humor and intricacy of Lubliner’s work. “Idon’t see anyone with the attention span of Phil,” Notarosays. “He can sit there and spend forever drawing oneletter.”
Lubliner now works from a tiny storefront studio inBrooklyn. He shares the space with Gary Fogelson, with whom he createdThe Holster, an art-zine collective. Lubliner’s zines add a touchof surrealism to his sunny vision of American leisure time: In onespread, divers leap from a flying pizza into an invitinglake.
Lubliner seems most excited at the moment about his installationpieces, which he calls “mini-dioramas,” of painted claylettering situated among “landscapish things” and set infound frames. He’s happiest when his fine art and commercial workmerge, as they did when he helped design Comcast’s TheSlowskys.comwebsite, developed by the New York design studio Honest. The Slowskys,two turtles who really like slow internet speeds, have mistakenlyimagined that a web-site is something that can be built in the physicalworld—in this case, out of a dresser-like piece of furniture,decorated with hand-lettered signs, in their living room.
TheSlowskys’ roof deck is outfitted with a swimming pool, slide, andpalm trees. It’s a very Lublineresque scene that neatly sums uphis meticulous craftmanship and mellow personality. He blushes andadmits, “I like to chill out a lot.”