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Q&A with Bas Jacobs

Type designer at Underware

Bas Jacobs, type designer at Underware, European type foundry. I’m based in Amsterdam, my companions in Helsinki (Finland) and Den Haag (the Netherlands), and others we cooperate with are spread across the globe. We make fonts. Fonts I would like to have myself, fonts which make me happy. Fonts are a vehicle for us to make something which we can’t directly imagine, but which we would like to explore.

Favorite typefaces

My favourite typeface varies from week to week. Currently I’m totally in love with the lowercase ‘e’ from the blackest weight of a type family we’re currently working on. If you look at it in isolation, it looks sturdy and tough (and I enjoy how the inner shape moves independently from the outer shape). But in the context of a longer text it has just the right balance of a charming, somehow clumsy character, but which can at the same moment elegantly change the rhythm of a text. Makes me totally happy.


RoboFont, many home brew scripts and tools, Pre- and Superpolator, FontLab, MetricsMachine, InDesign, all browsers, some text editors and about a dozen of other applications for various specific tasks.

Ideal work environment



There is no single thing as ‘inspiration’. There is also no single thing which is ‘the best music’, or ‘the best book’. Inspiration enters from many directions, in many different levels and frequencies. One aspect which inspires me while creating, is the design process itself. Once you start a new type family (or basically start to create anything), you first have a global idea what kind of “animal” it should be and what its temperament is. But then you have to tame the beast while completing it. Taming the beast can be very inspiring.