Typography, calligraphy and lettering

Ed Benguiat: Stranger Things, Esquire and the 600 Creations of a Unique Typographer

A retrospective on the prolific typographer and logo designer, featuring some of his most emblematic creations

Ed Benguiat (1924-2020) was an American typographer, designer, and lettering artist whose influence on the creative world is difficult to overstate. In addition to having served as associate director of Esquire magazine—whose logo he designed, he was a prestigious jazz percussionist under the name Eddie Benart, a pilot, a teacher with more than 50 years of experience, and, every now and then, he found the time to retouch some "scandalous" images in magazines.

The logos of Barcelona'92, Esquire, and The New York Times, created by typographer Ed Benguiat.
The logos of Barcelona'92, Esquire, and The New York Times, created by typographer Ed Benguiat.

But, without a doubt, the creative area in which he stood out and left an indelible mark was typography. After studying calligraphy and typography with Paul Standard, he dedicated himself to creating more than 600 different fonts. Not only is he one of the most prolific typographers in the history of design, but each of his creations has been used in many brands, publications, and articles that we all are familiar with. Learn more about his work and discover some of his most important sources.

Ed Benguiat. Specimen of ITC Benguiat Gothic (1979). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Ed Benguiat. Specimen of ITC Benguiat Gothic (1979). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

Snapshots of his life

Ed enjoyed access to a virtually unlimited amount of drawing materials as a child due to his father's work in a department store as exhibition director. From the age of nine, Ed began practicing with lettering and creating posters with his father's tools. Benguiat later stated that this approach did not take him straight into the typographic universe but set the path for him to get there eventually.

Over time, he helped create the International Typeface Corporation (ITC), a licensing organization for typographers. He worked for typography companies such as Photo-Lettering, and Lubalin and Burns, where he developed some of his most representative typefaces.

Ed Benguiat. Poster (1980). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Ed Benguiat. Poster (1980). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Prism Graphic by Ed Benguiat (the title of the book). Design by John Sposato and Frank Kelly Freas.
Prism Graphic by Ed Benguiat (the title of the book). Design by John Sposato and Frank Kelly Freas.

His most famous creations

Some of his instantly recognizable typefaces are:


  • ITC Benguiat

  • Benguiat Gothic

  • Tiffany

  • Bookman

  • Korinna

  • Souvenir

  • Edwardian Script

  • Panache

On MyFonts, you can browse a catalog of 23 of his creations and buy them directly.

Ed Benguiat. Specimen of ITC Korinna (ca. 1975). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Ed Benguiat. Specimen of ITC Korinna (ca. 1975). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Ed Benguiat. Fat Stuff design. School of Visual Arts Archive.
Ed Benguiat. Fat Stuff design. School of Visual Arts Archive.

Once, during an interview, someone asked him what his favorite font was, and this was his response:

They are all like my children. I like them all, but I don't use them all. In fact, I use Helvetica [laughter], a lot. Or Bodoni. It is a reliable type.
Ed Benguiat

Designs and redesigns that stayed with us

Among some of his most famous typographic logos, whether original or redesigned, are:


  • Esquire
  • (redesign)
  • The New York Times
  • (redesign)
  • Playboy
  • (redesign)
  • Sports Illustrated
  • (redesign)
  • AT&T
  • (under the direction of Saul Bass)
  • Ford
  • (redesign)
  • Estée Lauder

  • The Planet of the Apes
  • (1968 movie)
  • Stranger Things
  • (ITC Benguiat source was used)
Playboy magazine logo.
Playboy magazine logo.
Ed Benguiat redesigned the Esquire logo (see the first photo of the article), very similar to the current one.
Ed Benguiat redesigned the Esquire logo (see the first photo of the article), very similar to the current one.
Poster for The Planet of the Apes (1968).
Poster for The Planet of the Apes (1968).

Introductory sequence for the TV show Stranger Things (2016), which uses the ITC Benguiat font:

Stranger Things used the ITC Benguiat font for the series logo.
Stranger Things used the ITC Benguiat font for the series logo.
Ed Benguiat's ITC Tiffany inspired Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) logo.
Ed Benguiat's ITC Tiffany inspired Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown (1997) logo.

For the New York Times logo redesign, Benguiat famously did all the work by hand, modifying hundreds of small details that were almost imperceptible to the untrained eye.

In a later interview, he explained the process:

It took me about a week, eight hours a day, and I was looking to recreate the same feeling it gave me before. In terms of music, it's like a bossa nova: you know how it should sound, but you can ruin it if you get too far from the tone. You have to keep up.
Ed Benguiat
Ed Benguiat. Negative on paper of the New York Times (1966). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.
Ed Benguiat. Negative on paper of the New York Times (1966). Cary Graphic Arts Collection.

Too many new designers replace talent with technology and think that if they have a Mac, they can create a logo or a font. First, you must learn to draw. The computer can't do that for you.
Ed Benguiat
Ed Benguiat. Design for WNBC-TV News 4. School of Visual Arts Archive.
Ed Benguiat. Design for WNBC-TV News 4. School of Visual Arts Archive.
ITC Tiffany by Ed Benguiat in material from The Ramones. Design by Arturo Vega. Fonts in Use.
ITC Tiffany by Ed Benguiat in material from The Ramones. Design by Arturo Vega. Fonts in Use.
Ed Benguiat. Mercedes Benz logo version. School of Visual Arts Archive.
Ed Benguiat. Mercedes Benz logo version. School of Visual Arts Archive.

In this interview, Ed Benguiat talks a little more about his career:

Recommended courses

English Calligraphy from A to Z. Calligraphy, and Typography course by Bego Viñuela Galarraga

English Calligraphy from A to Z

A course by Bego Viñuela Galarraga

Explore Copperplate script and revive the power of freehand lettering

  • 27265
  • 99% (929)
85% Disc.
Original price $39.99USD
Shodo: Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy. Calligraphy, and Typography course by RIE TAKEDA

Shodo: Introduction to Japanese Calligraphy

A course by RIE TAKEDA

Calm your mind and find inner peace by understanding the philosophy and art of traditional Japanese writing

  • 11161
  • 99% (299)
85% Disc.
Original price $39.99USD
Tattoo Lettering. Calligraphy, and Typography course by Caio Cruz

Tattoo Lettering

A course by Caio Cruz

Learn to draw custom letters and enhance messages engraved on the skin with a unique style.

  • 4909
  • 100% (52)
FREE WITH PLUS
85% Disc.
Original price $39.99USD
0 comments