Fred Smeijers

Swift, Efficient and Clear

June 14, Sunday 14:30 – SALT Galata

Letters that can be written easily and swiftly are the cursives. A clear example of their evolution is the humanistic italic, transformed into typographic letters by Aldus Manutius. The Aldine Press was the first of the Western civilisation to introduce such italic lettershapes to the printed typography.

In the 16th century, italics became a standard due to the good balance between writing speed and legibility. Italic type was also more space-conscious, too. All these qualities were much appreciated by a public, both reading and writing, with limited financial means. However, italic type - no matter how promising and efficient it was - did not win over its [more legible] typographic contender, the minuscule. In daily practice, the italic remained present as a letter fast enough and easy enough to write. And so, in the world of writing it has survived because it was efficient.

Nowadays, we hardly write by hand and, in our fast-paced world, speed often equals comfort. Things should be fast, directly available, inexpensive, mobile, and easy to use. But with all this in hand, are we really efficient? And, does swiftness actually exist in the typographic discipline?


About Fred Smeijers

Fred Smeijers is a Dutch type designer, teacher, researcher, and writer. Among the most versatile contemporary type designers, Smeijers has a whole range of distinctive typefaces to his credit, among them: FF Quadraat; TEFF Renard; DTL Nobel; Arnhem, Fresco, Sansa, Custodia, Ludwig, Puncho, and Bery — all published by OurType, the font label that he co-founded in 2002. His custom type designs include typefaces and lettering for Philips, Tom-Tom, Canon-Europe, and Samsung.

His first book Counterpunch was published by Hyphen Press in 1996, and translated into French, Japanese, and Portuguese, and was followed by Type Now, A manifesto plus Work so far in 2003.

Smeijers is the recipient of the Gerrit Noordzij Prize for outstanding contribution to type design, awarded by the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague. He is a research fellow at Plantin Moretus Museum in Antwerp and Professor of type design at the Hochschule für Grafik und Buchkunst in Leipzig.