Handwritten Typographers

Hit pause for a moment and consider how greatly we – people in the digital age – are indebted to typographers. Almost all of our visual communication is delivered using the products of their craft: newspapers, SMSes, instant messages, emails, web pages, signs, posters, billboards; the list of purposes is endless.

In these days where looping strokes have been replaced by keyboard clickety-clack, typographers define the style and tone of our missives. Would you like to be elegant, modern, childish or ... disturbed? Then you can choose between Garamond, Montag, Comic Sans, Zebraflesh, and a thousand more.

There's great power in a typeface, but what's always interested me more than the typeface is the designer behind it – why did they create the typeface? Where did their inspiration come from? How did they start?

Lately, I've been asking just one question, though. Something which has always intrigued me: these people that help us communicate ... how do they themselves communicate? If we strip away the monitors, and the printing presses, and the typefaces ... how would William Caslon have written on a post-it note?

The handwriting of typographers intrigues me because it raises so many questions, big and small: Do typographers exert some extraordinary control of the pen that laypersons don't? Does a typographer's handwriting influence the typefaces they produce? Has the rise of digital communications made handwriting redundant? Do modern typographers, born of digital tools, lack the finesse of their more wizened counterparts? If so, does that change the way their type is designed?

And then, there's just something strangely ... meta ... about looking at the handwriting of people who work with type.

So, to satisfy my own curiosity I asked a number of prominent typographers to send me a scan of their handwriting. This is the result.

Erik Spiekermann

Erik is a renowned designer and typographer who has been involved in every facet of visual communication – practicing, writing and teaching, as well as running his international agency SpiekermannPartners.

He has designed corporate typefaces for Nokia and Deutsche Bahn, as well as the fonts FF Meta, ITC Officina, FF Info, LoType, Berliner Grotesk and many more.

FF Meta Sample of FF Meta
ITC Officina Serif Sample of ITC Officina Serif
Handwriting Erik Spiekermann's handwriting

The tools that Erik used to write his sample

Göran Söderström

Göran Söderström began working at various advertising agencies before forming his own design studio – Autodidakt – in 2006. Since then he has focused largely on type design.

Göran's typefaces are published via Fountain, Psy/Ops, and Veer and they include Trentor, Exemplar Pro and Navelfluff.

Exemplar Pro Sample of Exemplar Pro
Navelfluff Sample of Navelfluff
Handwriting Göran Söderström's handwriting

Nikola Djurek

Nikola Djurek owns the type foundry Typonine in Croatia. As well as running his own foundry, Nikola teaches in the University of Zagreb's School of Design and at the Academy of Art in Split. He is also the Croatian delegate for ATypI (Association Typographique International).

Nikola's type designs include Tempera, Typonine Stencil and Amalia. He designed DTL Porta for use in the newspapers of Dutch publisher Wegener.

Tempera Biblio Sample of Tempera Biblio
Tempera Rose Sample of Tempera Rose
Handwriting Nikola Djurek's handwriting

Sebastian Lester

Seb Lester is a type designer and typographic illustrator who operates out of London. His beautiful type creations are used by Intel, Dell, The New York Times and The Sunday Times, amongst others.

His fonts include the comprehensive Soho family which was recently joined by Soho Gothic. He has also created the clean Scene and the modern Neo Sans.

Soho Gothic Sample of Soho Gothic
Scene Pro Sample of Scene Pro
Handwriting Sebastian Lester's handwriting

Mark Simonson

Mark Simonson started out as a graphic designer and illustrator, transitioning to art director on several Minnesota-based publications throughout the 80s and 90s. In 2000, his interest in type design lead him to open his own shop specialising in lettering and typography.

Mark has created an abundance of good fonts, many with a handwritten or art deco influence, including Felt Tip Roman, Mostra, Lakeside, or the somewhat more geometric Proxima Nova.

Felt Tip Roman Sample of Felt Tip Roman
Mostra Sample of Mostra
Handwriting Mark Simonson's handwriting

Kris Sowersby

This New Zealander developed a love for letterforms in design school and has been infatuated ever since. He now produces stunning retail typefaces and custom typefaces for lucky clients. (He's one of my favourite typographers of the past few years.)

Kris collaborated with Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwartz to produce FF Meta Serif and has created several distinguished typefaces in his own right: Newzald, Feijoa and the TDC awarded National.

Feijoa Sample of Feijoa
National Sample of National
Handwriting Kris Sowersby's handwriting

Eduardo Manso

Eduardo Manso had the usual stints in advertising agencies and design shops before settling in Barcelona, where he now freelances and teaches typography in several different schools.

Eduardo's typefaces have received numerous accolades including several TDC certificates of excellence for Relato Sans and Bohemia. Bohemia also won first place in the 2003 Linotype International Type Design Contest.

Relato Sans Sample of Relato Sans
Bohemia Sample of Bohemia
Handwriting Eduardo Manso's handwriting

Veronika Burian

Veronika Burian originally studied as an industrial designer, but discovered her passion for type whilst in Italy. After receiving her Masters in Type Design she joined forces with José Scaglione to create the independent type foundry TypeTogether.

Her typeface Maiola received a TDC certificate of excellence, and she has since released several fonts in partnership with José: Karmina, Ronnia and Bree.

Karmina Sample of Karmina
Maiola Sample of Maiola
Handwriting Veronika Burian's handwriting

Marian Bantjes

Marian Bantjes has – for me – redefined what it means to be a typographer. She doesn't produce typefaces, and her most famous work doesn't involve typesetting paragraphs of text (although she certainly has that background). Instead, Marian illustrates type with a boundless freedom and intricacy that gives each of her pieces a unique, handmade appearance.

She has crafted art-cum-type for clients such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Yale and Stefan Sagmeister.

Saks Fifth Avenue Marian's work for Saks
Yale Alumni Marian's work for the Yale Alumni Magazine
Handwriting Marian Bantjes' handwriting

Dino dos Santos

Dino's studio, DSType was started in 1994 and has focused almost exclusively on typeface design – both custom and commercial.

Dino's output of typefaces can only be described as prolific. Ventura was awarded a TDC certificate of excellence and most of his other fonts – including Andrade, Esta, Estilo and Leitura – have either won awards or been featured in the top fonts for their respective years.

Estilo Script Sample of Estilo Script
Volupia Sample of Volupia
Handwriting Dino dos Santos' handwriting

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