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VanderLans studied at the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague and graduated in 1979. He worked as an apprentice designer at Total Design in Amsterdam, and as a junior designer at Form Vijf and Tel Design in The Hague. In 1983, he moved to California and studied photography at the University of California, Berkeley. In 1984, VanderLans, with his wife Zuzana Licko, founded Emigre graphics.
From 1984 until 2005 VanderLans published, edited, and designed Emigre magazine, a quarterly publication devoted to visual communication. Shortly after Emigre magazine was launched, in 1984, the Macintosh computer was introduced. VanderLans, together with his wife Zuzana Licko, became early adopters to the new technology and they used the computer to experiment and created some of the very first digital layouts and typeface designs causing great consternation within the realm of graphic design. Eventually, exposure of the typefaces in Emigre magazine resulted in demand for the fonts which lead to the creation of the Emigre Type foundry. This growing library of digital typefaces, both experimental and traditional, is currently the principle activity and mainstay of Emigre.
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 six photo books on the topic, and staged two solo exhibits at Gallery 16 in San Francisco.
- Design Observer article by Rick Poynor
- Speak Up interview with VanderLans
- Interview with Rudy VanderLans by Steven Heller
- Print Magazine interview with VanderLans
- AIGA Biography of Zuzana Licko and Rudy VanderLans
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