From Trajan’s Column to Digital PublishingTheory and Practice of Type Design

by Andreas Faust

A laptop, “Glyphs” and an idea: never before in the roughly 550-year history of letterpress printing with movable type have the production means for professional design and distribution of original typefaces been available to such an extent as they are today. Not every typographer therefore has to design typefaces, but typeface design helps every typographer to gain deeper insights into the nature and construction of his tools. The experience of drawing letters fundamentally sharpens one’s perception and refines one’s individual repertoire of typographic expression.

The course took place in the context of the class for graphic design/communication design of Prof. Friederike Girst, Prof. Holger Felten and Prof. Stefan Endress on a weekly basis from October 21 to December 16, 2022, and was structured as follows:

  1. Two lectures on the history of writing with a focus on the Latin alphabet.
  2. Student short presentations on relevant typographers, type designers or phenomena of typography to prepare the own typeface design.
  3. Glyphs tutorial as an introduction to practical typeface design.
  4. Design of own typeface. Feedback by the plenary of the class and in individual discussions.
  5. Design of font samples for this website.

The class was composed of students from different semesters and disciplines. None of the participants had previous experience with type design. The goal of the seminar was to develop at least one usable font. Beyond that, there were no specifications. Rather, the students were to find a productive approach to type design based on their personal taste and interest.

Andreas Faust is creative director of the German-language JACOBIN magazine. He has designed typefaces for Adidas, Maison Margiela and the Albrecht Dürer Society, among others.