When I first started my career in graphic design, inspiration came in the form of printed material to the mail box. Digital design was for the most part a foreign concept. Almost all work was done the old fashioned way, analog, and the internet wasn’t available. I used to wait anxiously for the next issue of Upper and Lower Case magazine to arrive so I could check out the latest trends in typography, graphic design, and get industry news. It was a go to source for many years, and probably still would be if it still existed. The articles were always interesting to read and the publication felt and read like a newspaper.
“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.”
U&lc began publishing in 1974 and for 26 years it was a faithful source of information and inspiration for it’s readers. Each issue was 25 to 30 pages in length, printed in black and white, tabloid size, and except for a few times, hit it hit your mailbox with complete regularity. Now thanks to fonts.com, every back issue will be made available in PDF format. All 26 years worth.
Every month fonts.com will publish an entire years worth of U&lc, and it will be available for download via the fonts.com blog. Now, with that said, be warned the files are a bit big. Not unmanageable, but large. Around 85 megabytes in size. fonts.com also says the files aren’t perfect, since they were created from scans of original materials. Some of the pages are sometimes faded, cracked or torn. There are over 9000 scanned pages for you to go through if you so desire. I plan to go get as many of these as I can. It was a timeless source of inspiration and information back in the day, and still will be.
Both my parents were graphic designers. My dad worked primarily with publication design and my mom did children’s illustration for everything from coloring books to calendars and beyond. They had a studio at the house, so I was constantly exposed to all the direct mail and magazines that related to the industry. One publication in particular that has always stuck with me is U&lc (Upper and lower case.) it arrived, if I remember right, quarterly, and after my mom and dad were done reading it I would grab it and give it a look through.
This was the mid 70’s, and that would have made me 11 or 12. Richard Nixon was still the president, with the Water Gate Scandal heating up, and people were still fascinated with men walking on the moon. And I was a type geek even back then. It was around this time ITC began publishing U&lc. I’m pretty sure we got our first issue at the house in 1974 or 75. It’s hard to remember. When it first started to arrive, I didn’t give it much thought. The thing that changed for me, was my mom gave me a job that summer doing paste up and setting type with rub-down Letraset fonts. I got my first lessons in typography, and I was hooked.
U&lc was published for 26 years. My mom and dad maintained their subscription until the very end. in the fall of 1999. While U&lc never had a huge subscription base, it did have thousands of readers and its influence can still be felt to this day. As readership grew, and printing became more affordable, U&lc switched from a 24 page black and white tabloid, to full color in 1988.
10 years after its end, ITC still gets requests for back issues of the publication, all the way back to the very beginning of its run in 1974. But because ITC has limited numbers of back issues they have been hard pressed to meet all of the requests. Thankfully that has changed. ITC has announced that they will be making every issue of U&lc available as PDF downloads available at fonts.com. Each PDF will be searchable, and available as both high res and low res versions.
Each month ITC will release a year’s worth of publications at fonts.com. The files can be rather large though, with the high res versions topping out at around 85 megabytes in size.