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The Handwriting Of 10 Famous Typographers

Even when they’re scrawling their names on checks, most type designers put a great amount of care into their letters.

No one has done more to kill off handwriting than typographers. The fonts and typefaces they have created are the primary non-verbal medium through which we communicate our ideas: on computers, on smartphones, in magazines and newspapers, and even stop signs. But handwriting has one advantage that typefaces don’t: whereas Helvetica belongs to literally everyone, our handwriting is unique to us.

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That got web technologist Cameron Adams thinking. He started to wonder if typographers had different handwriting styles than normal people. “If we strip away the monitors, and the printing presses, and the typefaces, how would William Caslon have written on a Post-it note?” Adams asks. So he collected the handwriting of some game typographers and compared the samples to their most famous typefaces.

Such a comparison is obviously subjective, but looking over Adams’s samples, I personally can’t be help notice a number of similarities between typographers’ handwriting and their fonts.

There are exceptions: Göran Söderström of Swiss design studio Autodidakt writes nothing like his sans-serif fonts Navelfluff and Exemplar Pro, and Erik Spiekermann doesn’t have handwriting that looks anything like the system font he designed for Nokia.

But by and large, you can see a certain self-awareness and care that typographers put into the way they form letters on their page. This is true certainly of Nikola Djurek, founder of the Croatian type foundry Typonine and designer of Tempera Biblio and Tempera Rose. Another typographer who falls under this category is Sebastian Lester, whose script has something of the clear, nonthreatening intensity of his Soho and Scene fonts.

But in other typographers, the lineage between handwriting and typeface seems much more explicit. For example, Felt Tip Roman and Mosta designer Mark Simonson has handwriting that looks almost like the analog ancestors of his most famous fonts. Meanwhile, the scrawl of prolific type designer Dino dos Santos looks almost like it could be a sister font to his Estilo typeface.

Read more on Adams’s website here.

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