The story behind Letters As Symbols

Letters As Symbols: original cover 1991

Original cover by Paul Ibou, 1991.

The story behind Letters As Symbols

During his career, Paul Ibou collected an unseen archive of logos from the most famous and renowed designers of that time such as: Saul Bass, Félix Beltrán, Burton Kramer, Yasaburo Kuwayama, Eduardo A. Cánovas, Ken Cato, Alan Fletcher, Takenobu Igarashi, Hermann Zapf, Adrian Frutiger and many more.

Ibou attained the logos through submission forms which were sent in person to his organization International Trademark Center (ITC). With ITC, Ibou aimed to group the best logos designed by leading designers in order to exhibit and publish their work. Many of these original submission forms were reproduced and used in the creation of Letters As Symbols and are accompanied by the work of contemporary talented and reputed designers or agencies from the industry.

Letters As Symbols: Original Submission Forms

Original submission forms sent in by Alan Fletcher, Eduardo Cánovas and Edi Berk.

A celebration of letters as symbols

An alphabet. The Latin alphabet to be more precise. 26 letters, from A to Z. That’s all what it takes for billions of people to be able to communicate with one another. Basic shapes based on typographical rules which make it possible for you to read and understand this text. Rules, which a designer or typographer happily use to bend and stretch in order to communicate a completely different message.

Letters As Symbols is an international selection of 306 trademarks, logos and symbols where every single one of them is a celebration of breaking and pushing the boundaries of typography. The book shows a combination of logos made by worldwide respected pioneers who have given shape to the industry as we know it today and the work of designers who have the same profound skill in logo design, but who don’t have the name or fame.

The book is therefore not only a celebration of letters as symbols, it is also a celebration of owning the skill of logo design.

Who is Paul Ibou?

Paul Ibou was born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1939. Ibou graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp (1958) and the Plantin Institute of Typography (1962). In 1962, he started his career as a freelancer based in Antwerp. Ibou received numerous awards and worldwide recognition in specialized press, leading design books and magazines. His work can be found in among others: Trademarks & Symbols of the World (Yasaburo Kuwayama), Logo Modernism (Jens Müller & Julius Wiedemann) and many editions of IDEA magazine.

During his career, Ibou was often a guest speaker at design conferences and a member of international design juries. He is also the publisher of more than 50 books on art, design and logo design.

In 1994 Ibou organized the first World Symbols Festival in Ostend followed by many others in countries such as China, Korea, Japan, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Czech Republic,… The festivals were fully devoted to the logo as a symbol represented by and with the presence of leading designers. Today, Ibou is sporadically active as an artist and curator of his personal exhibitions in his atelier in Zandhoven, Belgium.

Paul Ibou

Paul Ibou