Rudy VanderLans

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Rudy VanderLans
Ruud van der Lans

Voorburg, The Netherlands
Education Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (KABK)
Known forGraphic design
Notable workEmigre

Rudy VanderLans[1][2] (born 1955, Voorburg) is a Dutch graphic designer, photographer, and the co-founder of Emigre Fonts with his wife Zuzana Licko. Emigre Fonts is an independent type foundry in Berkeley, CA.[3] He was also the art director and editor of Emigre magazine, the legendary journal devoted to visual communications from 1984 to 2005.[4] Since arriving in California in 1981, he has been photographing his adoptive Golden State as an ongoing side project. He has authored a total of 11 photo books on the topic, and staged two solo exhibits at Gallery 16 in San Francisco.

Education and graphic design[edit]

VanderLans studied graphic design at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague (KABK) and graduated in 1979. He worked as an apprentice designer at Wim Crouwel's Total Design in Amsterdam and as a junior designer at Form Vijf and Tel Design in The Hague. In 1981, he moved to California and studied photography at the University of California, Berkeley where he met Licko.[5]

VanderLans was first introduced to type design while at KABK, where the well-known Dutch type designer and teacher Gerrit Noordzij had started an ambitious and influential type and lettering program in 1970. When asked in 2001 for a contribution to a Noordzij tribute, VanderLans wrote: “Noordzij is a very distant memory for me. Although any wisdom regarding type that I carry with me must have come from him.[6]

From 1983–85, he worked as a graphic designer and illustrator in the art department at the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.

VanderLans has received honorary Doctor of Arts degrees from Rhode Island School of Design (2004) and California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California (2005).


From 1984 until 2005 VanderLans published, edited, and designed Emigre magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to visual communication and known for its inclusion of design discourse. Andrew Blauvelt, whose writing often occurred in the magazine, wrote that "Emigre covered emerging graphic designers and typographers seldom profiled in typical industry publications. It also published spirited design criticism in its pages–finding itself to be both the message and the messenger of many debates.”[7]

Licko and VanderLans were early adopters of the personal computer, and Emigre's launch coincided with the release of the Macintosh computer. They used the new technology to create some of the very first digital layouts and typeface designs. Their experimental design aesthetics earned them equal amounts of praise and criticism in the 1990s.

Exposure of Zuzana Licko's fonts through the magazine led to VanderLans and Licko founding Emigre Fonts in 1985. VanderLans’ main contribution to Emigre Fonts continue to be his type specimen designs. In a review of the book Emigre Fonts: Type Specimens 1986-2016, critic Kenneth FitzGerald remarked that “Emigre’s specimens are notable for the negotiation of practical considerations and creative idealism—the essence of all graphic design. They demonstrate an adept dovetailing of these concerns, crafting a format that stimulates desire then provides an efficient vehicle for satisfying it. A balance is struck between providing an enthusing context for the type while not overwhelming it. Though far from 'neutral,' the framework is evocative and clear.”[8]


  • Emigre (The Book): Graphic Design into the Digital Realm, New York, NY: Van Nostrand Reinhold; John Wiley & Sons, 1993
  • Emigre: Rosbeek 43, Charles Nypels Award, 1998, Netherlands: Drukkerij Rosbeek, 1998
  • Emigre No.70, Selections from Emigre Magazine #1 – #69, Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2009
  • Departures: Five Milestone Font Families by Emigre, Berkeley, CA: Emigre, 2011
  • Emigre Fonts: Type Specimens 1986 - 2016, Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2016


As a parallel interest to his design ventures, VanderLans has been photographing the California environment since he moved there from the Netherlands in 1981. He has authored a total of eleven photo books on the topic, and staged two solo exhibits at Gallery 16 in San Francisco.

Photography books

  • Positively Palmtree, small artist book created as an artist in residence at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester NY, 1985.
  • Picture the Southwest, small artist book, part of Emigre No. 7, 1987.
  • Palm Desert, Berkeley, CA: Emigre, 1999
  • Cucamonga, Berkeley, CA: Emigre, 2000
  • Joshua Tree, Berkeley, CA: Emigre, 2001
  • Supermarket, Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2001
  • Pages from an Imaginary Book, Paris, France, Onestar Press, 2003
  • Bagdad, Californie, Berkeley, Rodez, France, Éditions du Rouergue, 2004
  • Still Lifes, California, 2015
  • Still Lifes, U.S.A., Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2017
  • Still Lifes, Tokyo, Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2018
  • Anywhere, California, Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2020
  • Oleander Sunset, Berkeley, CA: Gingko Press, 2021


Museum exhibits[edit]

Solo exhibitions

  • “Emigre Magazine: Selections from the Permanent Collection,” Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, 1997
  • “Charles Nypels Prize,” Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht, Netherlands, 1998
  • “Emigre in Istanbul,” Contemporary Art Center, Istanbul, Turkey, 1999
  • “Emigre in Norfolk,” Old Dominion University Gallery, Norfolk, Virginia, 2005
  • “Emigre at Gallery 16,” Gallery 16, San Francisco, 2010
  • “Emigre magazine: design, discourse and authorship,” University of Reading, UK, 2017

General exhibitions

Permanent collections

  • Denver Art Museum holds a complete set of Emigre magazine in their permanent collection.
  • Design Museum in London holds a complete set of Emigre magazine in their permanent collection.
  • Letterform Archive holds the Emigre Archives in their permanent collection.
  • Museum für Gestaltung (Museum of Design, Zurich) holds Emigre magazine issues in their permanent collection.
  • Museum of Modern Art in New York holds a complete set of Emigre magazine, and five digital fonts from the Emigre Fonts library in their permanent collection.
  • Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco holds a complete set of Emigre magazine in their permanent collection.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rudy VanderLans was born Ruud van der Lans, but adjusted his name when he emigrated to the USA.
  2. ^ Middendorp, Jan (2004). Dutch type. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers. ISBN 90-6450-460-1. OCLC 54880333.
  3. ^ Sherin, Aaris. "Grove Art Online: Emigre Inc". Oxford Art Online.
  4. ^ "Emigre: About". Retrieved 2021-03-25.
  5. ^ Thrift, Julia (Summer 1992). "Reputations: Rudy VanderLans". Eye Magazine. 2 (7).
  6. ^ Middendorp, Jan (2004). Dutch type. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers. ISBN 90-6450-460-1. OCLC 54880333.
  7. ^ Graphic design : now in production. Andrew Blauvelt, Ellen Lupton, Rob Giampietro, Åbäke, Walker Art Center (1st ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center. 2011. ISBN 978-0-935640-98-4. OCLC 727701655.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  8. ^ FitzGerald, Kenneth (30 November 2016). "Character References: On Emigre type specimens". Ephemeral States.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

Additional online resources[edit]

Additional print resources[edit]

  • Bouvet, Michel, East Coast West Coast: Graphistes aux États-unis, Paris, France, Les Éditions Textuel, 2002. Essay on history of Emigre.
  • Dawson, Peter, The Field Guide to Typography: Typefaces in the Urban Landscape, New York, NY, Prestel, 2013. Interview with Rudy VanderLans & Zuzana Licko.
  • Eskilson, Stephen J., Graphic Design: A New History, London, UK, Laurence King Publishing, 2007. Essay on Emigre in chapter on “Postmodern Typography.”
  • Heller, Stephen, ed., Design Literacy: Understanding Graphic Design. New York, NY, Allworth Press with School of Visual Arts, 2014. Essay on Emigre in chapter on "Mass Media.”
  • Lupton, Ellen, Mixing Messages: Graphic Design in Contemporary Culture, New York, NY, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996. Short profile of Emigre and Zuzana Licko's typefaces. Book published in conjunction with exhibit at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.
  • McCarthy, Steven, The Designer as Author, Producer, Activist, Entrepreneur, Curator & Collaborator: New Models for Communicating, Amsterdam, Netherlands, BIS, 2013. Emigre referenced throughout, and short profile of Emigre in chapter on “Typographic Design Authorship.”
  • Meggs, Philip B., ed., A History of Graphic Design, New York, NY, John Wiley & Sons, 1998. Profile of Emigre in chapter on “Pioneers of Digital Graphic Design.”
  • Poynor, Rick, Design Without Boundaries: Visual Communication in Transition, London, UK, Booth-Clibborn Editions, 1998. Emigre referenced in essay “Cult of the Ugly,” and one essay, “Into the Digital Realm,” on Emigre.
  • Poynor, Rick, No More Rules: Graphic Design and Postmodernism, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 2003. Emigre referenced throughout.
  • Shaughnessy, Adrian, How to be a Graphic Designer, Without Losing Your Soul, London, UK, Laurence King Publishing, 2005. Interview with Rudy VanderLans.

External links[edit]