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Fred Smeijers

Fred Smeijers is a Dutch type designer, teacher, and writer. After finishing as a student at the school of art at Arnhem, he worked as a typographic advisor to the reprographic company Océ, then became a founding member of the graphic design practice Quadraat, which provided the name for his first published typeface (FontShop, 1992). Smeijers has a whole range of distinctive typefaces to his credit, including Renard (The Enschedé Font Foundry, 1998) and Arnhem, Fresco, Sansa, and Custodia. These latter are all distributed by OurType, the company that he co-founded. His books are Counterpunch (1996) and Type now (2003). He is a winner of the Gerrit Noordzij prize (2001), and is Professor of Digital Typography at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst, Leipzig.


Large 042 cp2

Counterpunch: making type in the sixteenth century, designing typefaces now

Fred Smeijers

Counterpunch is packed with ideas. It is both an investigation into the technics of making metal type by hand, and a consideration of present questions in type design. The discussion takes in the fundamentals of designing and making letters, so that the book can be read as a guide to type and font construction in any medium. Lively, pointed drawings and photographs complement an equally fresh text.

Out of print. Find out more
Large 024 tn

Type now: a manifesto, plus work so far

Fred Smeijers

A short and strong statement of position by a type designer. The book takes a wide view, taking in the business of present-day font production, and the technics and the ethics of type as software. As always, Smeijers’s arguments are informed by a strong historical sense. The book also shows his own work as a designer, and is published as a conclusion to the award to him of the Gerrit Noordzij Prize.

Out of print. Find out more


The work of Matthew Carter

Fred Smeijers / 2011.11.01

On 13 October in Antwerp Fred Smeijers spoke some words of introduction at the opening of the exhibition ‘The Most Widely Read Man in the World: Matthew Carter’, on show until the end of the year at the Catapult gallery. We are glad to publish the text here, both for its homage to Matthew Carter (son of Harry Carter) and in its own right, as a piece of writing. If you like this, you may also enjoy Smeijers’s meditations on ‘what is a classic typeface?’. (For their advice and help in publishing this, thanks to Fred Smeijers, Matthew Carter, and Eric Kindel.) Read more

Is it possible to determine what typeface of the 1990s will become a classic in the future?

Fred Smeijers / 2006.09.26

With its issue of April–May 2006 (no. 70), the magazine ‘Tipográfica’ entered its twentieth year of publication. Published from Buenos Aires since its first issue of May 1987, the magazine is now established as one of the liveliest and most internationally minded design magazine: though rooted in typography, most issues contain pieces on graphic design and design more generally, with a strong interest in the social and philosophical aspects of the subject. More than most design publications of the moment, ‘Tipográfica’ puts European and North American preoccupations into salutary perspective. For this anniversary issue, ‘Tipográfica’ asked twenty ‘prominent personalities’ to write brief pieces in response to questions posed by the magazine’s editorial group: a different question for each respondent. Among respondents were Robert Bringhurst, Christopher Burke, Matthew Carter… and on to Hermann Zapff. Perhaps the most entertaining contribution came from Fred Smeijers. We reproduce it here, with kind permission of ‘Tipográfica’. Read more