I just started. Do you have any tips for me? Four years ago I was full of ideas and ambition, but now I’m stuck. What should I do?
• Think big.
• It’s okay to be ambitious, but stay relaxed.
• Pulverize your heroes.
• There is always more than one solution for a problem.
• Other people have knowledge you don’t have. Ask them. Age doesn't matter.
• Have fun. Just enjoy what you are doing.
• Take care of people surrounding you.
• Two people can do more than one.
• Surprise yourself, try new unexplored ways.
• Be better than last time.
• Make sure you are relevant.
• Be critical.
• Invest. Spend money.
I wanna be a type designer too. What skills do I need?
Give flowers to your mother while she’s alive.
I want to learn more about making type. What should I do?
Draw letters, produce typefaces, design type, learn how to throw cannonballs, learn how to use computer applications, learn how to make a good coffee, learn programming, learn about rhythm and contrast
in various areas, give presentations, learn one new keyboard shortcut a day, learn how to ride a wave, impress your friend with one new grep-command every week, and don’t forget what your mother told you: always be honest.
I’m a poor student. Can I get your fonts for free?
For those who want to learn to design type:
You can learn from tons of online resources these days, lucky bastards (like our type-basics
on typeworkshop.com). You can read dozens of good books on type, there are many good books available.
But the most precious treat is time for practicing. Quit the internet, shut down your computer, switch off your phone, put your books back to the shelf. Silence and concentration. Get paper and some tools (pencils, pens, whatever), and start sketching, drawing, writing. It’s the best way to learn and discover your own direction. Do it.
What is Underware’s Educational License Agreement?
Dudes, what’s your motto?
The educational license allows officially recognized places of design education to obtain our complete library for a reduced price, and allows all their students to work with all our fonts for a moral and social price. Read more about the Educational License Agreement here
, or contact us if you think this applies your situation.
Next to that, we offer the Individual Educational License Agreements on a case by case basis, which allows students to work with some of our fonts for a specific educational project. Before you receive any font, you would have to sign the license agreement which explains what you can and what you cannot to do with the fonts. A regular license has to be obtained if an educational project is afterwards realized/published/printed. Contact us if you think the Individual Educational License Agreement applies your situation.
No educational license agreement covers usage of fonts for the corporate identity of a school. A regular license needs to be obtained for corporate use, educational licenses only allow *educational* usage.
You rock! I definitely want to do my internship at Underware
Never give up.
So you’re only three people?
We don’t have interns. We have 3 studio’s in 3 different cities (Den Haag, Amsterdam, Helsinki). Each studio is mainly equipped with one person, but sometimes one person works at one of the other studios for a while. Sometimes we are teaching on different art academies. So there are days a studio isn’t equipped at all. Next to this, working on a typeface can be lots of production work, which is hard to explain to somebody who doesn’t have so much experience with making, designing and producing typefaces. It totally depends on which moment you would arrive here. Because we are so unorganized, and don’t always have a regular continuity in every the studio, it’s impossible to fit another person into it. We had some interns in the past, and it turned out to be fairly difficult to have a satisfying internship at Underware. That’s just because of our way of working. So, we’re sorry, but it’s not possible for you to join as an intern.
Who does what at Underware?
Euhm, not really. We’ve got many people helping us out with many things. Often. Very often. And we can't say enough how happy we are with all of them. Check the list
Which books should I read to know more about type?
We have a totally merged collaboration. It’s impossible to define who does what, as this varies all the time and totally depends on the situation. This might not be a satisfying answer, pigeon-holing is human’s nature. But Underware can’t be compartmentalized, it’s a united organism. One person continues where the other stopped, while a third drops in new ideas from the sideline. Essence of our collaboration: none of us would individually arrive at our final destination. It takes three for a synergetic tango. Our typefaces are always done by our whole team, not by single individuals. Making a new typeface has tons of phases, from hand sketching to digital outline fine tuning, from OpenType programming to preparing its online presentation. Everyone can easily contribute to it all. Three men, one mission.
What do you think about illegal fonts?
Aha, good to hear you are interested to gain more knowledge in type design and are looking for useful sources. You can already find long
, very long
& really long
reading lists on the internet, so we'll keep it short and provide only 3 titles of hands-on books & 1 bonus title:
1) Inside Paragraphs — Cyrus Highsmith
If you have never designed type yourself, or if you have tried but directly stopped because you couldn't control your letters, this book is what you need. The books simply shows how letters work together, and how they create sentences and how those are perceived by readers. This is all shown in a very simple way, which is as we all know very hard to achieve. A brilliant book for students.
2) The Stroke — Gerrit Noordzij
Many books show novices how stuff should be done, and if you follow that you can be a similar expert too. However, this book shows you not to follow somebody else, but instead provides enough foundations to start following yourself. Truly inspirational.
3) Finer Points in Spacing & Arrangement of Type — Geoffrey Dowding
Shows the basics of typography, spacing, leading, all that stuff you need to know to make text work. Useful for web & print designers. Old skool classic from 1954, outdated in the sense that it doesn’t mention software and pixels. But if offers another perspective than what you find on the internet today, so luckily it’s available in reprint again since 1995.
Can I remix your font?
Students are not always aware that typefaces are made by human beings. Some students consider any typeface to drop from heaven. Well, that ain’t the case unfortunately. If you ever made a typeface yourself, you know that making typefaces is just hard work, lots of hard work. So: fonts don’t drop from heaven. They might drop from a torrent, from a colleague’s disk, from the internet, or from somewhere you can’t remember anymore. But fonts don’t drop from heaven. You need to buy fonts, not steal them. If you use a font, ask yourself what kind of font it is, where you have it from, who made it, why it was made, etc. If you think fonts are expensive: just use a free font. And in case you notice that those free fonts suck: buy a commercial font.
When is a project finished at Underware?
As a student it can be instructive to study existing typefaces. It can also be helpful to create your own typefaces. And yes, it’s rather logical that your first typefaces are based on existing typefaces you like. You need to start somewhere, right? That’s all totally okay, and can be a valuable part of your education as long as you consider this a study project. Releasing this font could be a instructive process as well, but then you’re walking the very thin ice of piracy. Did you make a remix-agreement with the original type foundry? If not, don’t do it. Fonts, like music, could be remixed of course. But in the music business it’s common to have remix agreements; in the font industry that is still in its infancy. Large font distributors should take a stronger position and have a more outspoken opinion on a case by case basis. They should have a management function on the subject of remixing fonts, which they unfortunately don’t take yet. All the responsibility ends up at the type designer.
So if our fonts inspire you: thanks. If you make a new typeface which is strongly “inspired” and “influenced” by ours, as part of your study: enjoy. If you want to release that: contact us for a remix-agreement. No remix-agreement? No release.
Can you explain the differences between the 3 italics of Auto?
After working on a Liza for 3 years, we emailed each other the "final beta-version". After that, it still took us 2 years to release the final font, so that beta-wasn’t really beta. All together the development of Liza took five years. Ending up with 2000 (!) emails in a Liza-mailbox, and the folder with all Liza-files on our computers is almost 1 GB (a typeface is ± 300 kB, so calculate the amount of beta-versions yourself). Crazy. We’re very bad in finishing stuff, as we always keep developing new ideas. Sometimes projects just never seemed to come to an end. When we were almost done with Liza for example, we got the idea of the ‘out-of-ink’-feature, which simulates that you’re out of ink while sign painting and you would have to dip the brush into your ink pot again. Cool feature, but it meant we had to draw new glyphs for all letters, and rewrite the code of the complete typeface, another two months of extra work. As long as we think a new idea really adds value to the final product, we do it. No matter the stage of development.
What is your future plan regarding type design?
Aha, now it’s getting interesting! Remembering our eduction we had at the Royal Academy of Arts in Den Haag, you could say there is only a difference between ‘italic’ and ‘cursive’. We described that in our type-basics
. The difference between ‘italic’ and ‘cursive’ is the difference between function and construction. A cursive typeface only tells you something about the construction. It means that the typeface has an uninterrupted, continuous stroke. A cursive typeface still can have any angle, which means it can also be upright.
An ‘italic’ typeface however, tells you something about the function it has within a type family. It means there is a roman typeface, and this ‘italic’ is meant to stress and highlight pieces of text within roman text. But it can still have any shape, any design, interrupted as well as continuous strokes. Anything could basically work as an italic, also a cursive typeface. But an italic is not always a real cursive.
With Auto we created three different italics to explore linguistic possibilities. What happens for example if you design a theatre play, and you’ve got different actors with different voices? How do you graphically represent those? Do you always needs to use several font families for this, or can this be solved within 1 family? Or how do you represent a quote within a quote? Usually designers switch back to roman text within italic text, but wouldn’t it be possible to have an italic text within an italic text which still works as a separate italic text? Questions like these were the starting point for researching and creating the 3 different italics.
What makes a typeface a classic?
This has to do with lots of factors. But definitely there is more than just the formal aspect of a typeface (the design). I once attended a lecture where a guy tried to explain how an art piece can become a classic. He took Mona Lisa as an example. Of course there are some formal aspects in the painting (style, composition) which were revolutionary at the time it was painted. But this is not the only (main) reason why it became such a legend. Not so long ago it was even not part of the top 10 list which the Louvre defined to be the most important paintings of their collection. Only with the rising popularity of da Vinci as a person and the fact that the painting was stolen and lost for a long time, the painting got so famous as it is now.
Another nice example he mentioned was also The Girl With A Pearl Earring from Johannes Vermeer. The painting from 1665, was sold only 125 years ago for 2,30 guilders (1 euro you can say) because nobody really saw much value in it. But now it is treated to be a very important painting. How can something like this happen? No idea, but it's not only the painting itself.
He ended his talk with the diamond-skull of Damien Hirst (For The Love of God). He was discovering some aspects which could make this work to become a classic: uniqueness & little scandal. Damien Hirst is probably the only artist alive which is able to get such an amount of money to produce one single artwork. And this aspect is probably the only possibility to get a scandal these days. But of course there are lot of other works of arts which produced a scandal, but got forgotten in the meanwhile. So there has to be more. The guy suggested that to become a real all-time-classic, there should be a little secret included in the work. And he was sure that Damien Hirst also thought of this aspect. The guy ended his talk with the vision: There will be a day in the future where Damien Hirst is telling us whose skull it is, which we are looking at all the time. And from this day on this work has a very good chance to become the new Mona Lisa.
I think something similar goes for typefaces. Not identical, but similar. Helvetica is treated to be a classical typeface by some people already now. I think it needs more time. There is a good chance that in 100 years from now, Helvetica will be treated as oldskool (and nobody will use it anymore). The same can go for Meta or Scala or whatever typeface. The older the typeface is, the more the chance that it is a real classic. Now. And in 300 years. Maybe.
To become a classic typeface, I think some things have to come together.
They could be:
• Strong design (kind of new, surprising, high standard, good in details)
• Strong personality of the designer
• Strong story about the design of the typeface (purpose, context)
• Some magic