„Good typeface design is the art of making an impact without being in the foreground.“
Lukas Schneider, Typeface designer
Fascinated by spaces: Typeface designer Lukas Schneider
There are around half a million typefaces. Some of them we see constantly, others probably never.
But what are the differences between them? Typeface designer Lukas Schneider invited us to his studio and explained to us what his profession is all about.
The workbench in the middle of the room is noticeably tidy: Sheets of paper, pencils, reference books, a large screen – everything is exactly in its place. “Typeface design has a lot to do with order,” Lukas Schneider remarks, “but it looks a lot less orderly
around here when no one is visiting.”
A perfect line isn’t perfect.
Although there is excellent software for his profession, Lukas Schneider always begins developing a new typeface with hand-drawn sketches, as working directly on a computer could tempt him to draw the contours of a letter with mathematical perfection, i.e., too straight. However, the result would then seem too sterile.
The pencil, on the other hand, brings small inaccuracies into play, making the typeface seem harmonious to the human eye. “Taking time, approaching the optimum organically, that’s all part of the art,” says Lukas Schneider.
„Taking time, approaching the optimum organically, that’s all part of the art.“
Genuine quality is unobtrusive.
Serifs, majuscule heights, descenders – when Lukas Schneider talks about his sphere of expertise, it soon becomes clear how many different characteristics a typeface can have. The fact that laypeople often don’t even notice the details in his work doesn’t bother Lukas Schneider in the least, in fact it’s quite the contrary:
“A good typeface doesn’t necessarily need to be in the foreground. The important thing is that it works, that it is easy to read.” The months and sometimes even years a designer invests in a typeface simply save the reader time in the end.
The challenge of finding the right space.
A typeface designer only spends a part of his time with developing the letters. He dedicates a large portion of it to the white space between them. In the working step known as “kerning” the specific distance between certain combinations of letters is optimized.
Looking, allowing it to take effect, correcting. “In actual fact, my work is never completely finished,” says Lukas Schneider. “The difficult thing is to simply let go at a certain point.” As he speaks, he casually glances at his watch: A MeisterSinger Metris Bronze Line.
10 Questions for... Typeface designer Lukas Schneider
Mr. Schneider, what does perfection look like in your line of work?
A balanced relationship between perfection and imperfection.
How do you feel in general about quality?
For the most part, quality is important to me. But for example if I’m buying felt tip pens for my daughter, it doesn’t have to be a top product.
How often do you look at your watch during work?
I look at it now and again to get a hold of myself when I find myself in a flow state.
How do you manage not to chase after each second?
That actually happens automatically for me.
In which moment do you most like to forget time?
With my young daughter on the water slide at the swimming pool.
To whom would you give 100 hours if you could?
To my mother who more than deserves that.
And for what would you like to steal 100 hours?
For a short holiday on Ibiza with my family.
How many watches do you own?
A Seiko and a MeisterSinger Metris.
What do you like in particular about the MeisterSinger concept of this one-hand watch?
It’s a unusual idea that I haven’t seen before like this. From a professional point of view I’m very impressed by the design of the dial.
What time is it now?
Almost exactly midday.