5 Dutch Type Designers | Type specimen

The first printed FontFont type specimen was designed by Just van Rossum in 1990. The title of the English version was 5 Dutch Type Designers

Read some recollections below and download a PDF of the Dutch language version (‘5 Nederlandse letterontwerpers’) at the bottom of this page. 

Some recollections

It must have been the end of 1990. FontShop had just started and my Scala had just been released. 

Sitting in my studio in Arnhem, I remember opening the small but thick envelope, posted in Berlin. I took out some copies of the little type specimen 5 Dutch Type Designers, the first ever FontFont type specimen. It was beautifully designed by Just van Rossum, measuring 9,9 by 21 cm and printed on low white book paper in dark red and black.

Just van Rossum: ‘The color red was the original color of the FontFont label, as designed by Neville Brody (who, I think, also thought of the word ‘FontFont’ and who also designed the logo). Only later it was decided to use the colors black and yellow for FontFont to fit better with FontShops colors.”

The type specimen listed five Dutch type designers and their fonts, the first FontFonts that had been released: Rosetta, Vortex, Network, Cutout and Scratch by Max Kisman, Newberlin by Peter Verheul, Brokenscript and Justlefthand by Just van Rossum, Erikrighthand by Erik van Blokland and my own Scala.

Joan Spiekermann: “Erik and Just’s random font Beowolf had been released that first year, and we were planning to produce fonts early the following year in a brochure entitled 5 Dutch Type Designers, showcasing fonts by Erik and Just, Martin Majoor, Peter Verheul, and Max Kisman. It was the forerunner of FontFont which was formed in 1990.”  (Yves Peters interviewing Joan Spiekermann in Celebrating 20 Years of FontShopNovember 2009)

Erik Spiekermann: “The idea [to set up an independent digital type foundry] came because we suddenly saw all this great stuff being done by young type designers, mainly in the Netherlands. Two of them, Just van Rossum and Erik van Blokland, worked with me at MetaDesign in Berlin. They had Beowolf – the first RandomFont – that took PostScript into previously uncharted territory. And then there were friends like Max Kisman and Martin Majoor. The little publication 5 Dutch Type Designers showcasing the first FontFont release included some of these new typefaces from the Netherlands.”  (Yves Peters interviewing Erik Spiekermann in Celebrating 20 Years of FontShop, December 2009)

The type specimen came 
in three language versions: English, Dutch and German. The first thing I noticed was the title set in Scala Italic. It was almost vertically placed on the center of the cover, it reminded me of the leaning tower of Pisa. I remember I felt proud of it, it was one of the first times Scala had been used. Also the inside typography was mainly set in Scala, probably because it was the only real text typeface among the new FontFonts.

Maybe it is because the colors are different, maybe it is the paper, maybe it is because Scala Italic was used on the cover, anyhow I still have a weak spot for this little type specimen.

Martin Majoor, december 2009  

5 Nederlandse letterontwerpers | The first ever FontFont type specimen     
Download a scanned version of the Dutch specimen  (PDF 5,8 Mb)

©  First published by FSI FontShop International, 1990