12 famous typographers you need to know

You’re sure to know the most commonly used typefaces. The ones that surround us every day on the subways, in ads, in political campaigns and in our reading materials. You know a lot of their names, too – like Helvetica, Garamond and Baskerville. You may know their style: serif, sans-serif, humanist, geometric or grotesque. But do you know who created them?

Previously we’ve told you the 10 famous graphic designers you need to be able to name drop. So now that you’re developing as a designer, it’s time for the famous typographers. These are the 12 you should always be able to talk about, from those born in the 1500s to contemporary practitioners. Study up!

1. Matthew Carter


Nationality: British
Era: Contemporary
Education: Internship at Joh. Enschedé in The Netherlands
Foundry: Carter & Cone
Famous Fonts Designed: Georgia, Verdana, Tahoma, Bell Centennial
Designed for: Time, Washington Post, The New York Times, Boston Globe, Wired, and Newsweek
Find Out More: Matthew Carter Ted Talk: My Life in Typefaces

2. Max Miedinger


Nationality: Swiss
Era: Mid-20th Century
Education: Kunstgewerbeschule
Famous Fonts: Helvetica (with Eduard Hoffmann)
Other Skills: Typesetter
Find Out More: Resources on Max Miedinger

3. John Baskerville

Nationality: British
Era: 18th Century
Famous Fonts: Baskerville
Other Skills: Printing, paper, and ink production, lacquerwork and papier-maché
Find Out More: John Baskerville

4. Tobias Frere-Jones


Nationality: American
Era: Contemporary
Education: Rhode Island School of Design
Foundry: Frere-Jones Type
Famous Fonts: Gotham, Interstate, Archer (with Jonathan Hoefler)
Designed for: The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and the Whitney Museum
Find Out More: Frere-Jones Press

5. Adrian Frutiger


Nationality: Swiss
Era: Late 20th century
Education: Kunstgewerbeschule
Foundry: Deberny & Peignot
Famous Fonts: Univers, Frutiger, Avenir
Fonts used for: London street signage, Paris Metro, Deutsche Bank, GE, Apple
Find Out More: Frutiger’s Obituary (He died this year)

6. Erik Spiekermann


Nationality: German
Era: Contemporary
Education: Berlin’s Free University
Design Firm: Edenspiekermann
Famous Fonts: Berliner Grotesk, FF Meta, ITC Officina Sans
Designed for: Berlin Transit, Audi, Volkswagen, Nokia
Other Skills: Graphic design, Letterpress
Find Out More: Spiekerblog

7. Claude Garamond


Nationality: French
Era: 16th Century
Education: Apprenticed with Antoine Augereau
Famous Fonts: Garamond
Designed for: King François I
Find Out More: Garamond’s Biography

8. Stanley Morison


Nationality: British
Era: Early 20th Century
Education: Self-taught
Foundry: Consulted for the Monotype Corporation
Famous Fonts: Times New Roman (with Victor Lardent), revival of Baskerville
Other Skills: Print Historian
Find Out More: Stanley Morison: Changing the Times

9. Carol Twombly


Nationality: American
Era: Contemporary
Education: Rhode Island School of Design, Stanford University
Famous Fonts: Trajan, Myriad, Adobe Caslon, Chaparral
Designed for: Adobe
Find Out More: Adobe Type Designers: Carol Twombly

10. Jonathan Hoefler


Nationality: American
Era: Contemporary
Education: Rhode Island School of Design
Foundry: Hoefler Type Foundry
Famous Fonts: Hoefler Text, Requiem, Archer (with Frere-Jones)
Designed for: Guggenheim Museum, Rolling Stone, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Times Magazine
Find Out More: Jonathan Hoefler

11. Paul Renner

Nationality: German
Era: Early 20th Century
Education: Several Universities
Famous Fonts: Futura
Other Skills: Author, Painter
Find Out More: Paul Renner Biography

12. Jan Tschichold


Nationality: Swiss
Era: Early 20th Century
Famous Fonts: Sabon, Zeus
Designed for: Penguin Books
Other Skills: Graphic design, Calligraphy
Find Out More: jantschichold.de

Have more famous typographers to add to the list? Share them in the comments!

The author

Kaitlyn Ellison
Kaitlyn Ellison

Kaitlyn is part of the Community Team at 99designs.com. She grew up in Boulder, CO and went to school at Northwestern University in Chicago. When she's not blogging, she spends her time having adventures and being generally creative. She's all about having new experiences as often as possible!

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