The Missing Link

Kohei Miura

Page thirty-odd years back through graphic design and art direction annuals and you will encounter, in the early seventies, an explosion in exaggerated Cancellaresca script hand lettering, popularized by Tom Carnase, a New York designer and associate of Herb Lubalin. This type of script resurfaced in popular consciousness last year when the New York Times Magazine ran a feature using Memoriam, a typeface family commissioned that same year from type foundry Canada Type — not surprising given the design world’s current seventies retro-fest and love for all things Lubalinian.

The Japanese design world, too, was smitten by the scripts like this in the seventies. This is something I’ve always noticed in old annuals, but never really paid attention to in terms of credit. In Okinawa recently, I finally got down to some research (i.e. trawling musty old bookshops in out-of-the-way places, as I often do) and came up with a collection of work by a Japanese designer from the seventies, full of examples in this style.

That designer was Miura Kōhei (三浦滉平). Born in 1941, he worked with Lubalin Delpire & Cie, the French wing of Herb Lubalin’s one-time graphic design family of businesses, from 1972 to 1976. He currently resides in Saitama, and a small collection of his work can be viewed here.

Néojaponisme presents a selection of Miura’s Cancellaresca script hand lettering, here: here.

October 21, 2009

Ian Lynam is a graphic designer living in Tokyo and the art director of Neojaponisme. His website is located at His new book, Parallel Strokes, on the intersection of graffiti and typography is available now.

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