Frere Jones Type
Celebrated type designer, born in 1970 in New York City. Frere-Jones received a BFA in Graphic Design from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1992. He moved to Boston, where he worked at the Font Bureau until 1999. He joined the faculty of the Yale University School of Art in 1996 and has lectured throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. From 1999 until 2014, he worked for and with Jonathan Hoefler in New York. In 2015, he set up his own type foundry, Frere Jones Type. His old Font Bureau typefaces can be bought since 2020 at Frere Jones / Type Network. His work is in the permanent collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2006, The Royal Academy of Visual Arts in The Hague (KABK) awarded him the Gerrit Noordzij Prijs, for his contributions to typographic design, writing and education. In 2013 he received the AIGA Medal, in recognition of exceptional achievements in the field of design.
His Font Bureau typefaces:
- Armada (1987-1994). A rigid elliptical sans in many styles. This is a surprisingly beautiful family despite its self-imposed design restrictions. The Compressed Black is a piano key typeface in the style of Wim Crouwel. Font Bureau: An experiment in algorithmic design, Armada follows the verticals and flat arches so often to be found in the architectural geometry of cast iron and brickwork in 19th century American cityscapes.
- Asphalt (1995). Font Bureau: Who hasn't admired the energy of Antique Olive Nord? All other ultrabolds seem sluggish in comparison. Nord exudes Excoffon's animation and Gallic impatience with the rules. Tobias Frere-Jones cross-bred the weight, proportion, and rhythms of Nord with the casual grace of his own Cafeteria, gaining informality and a dancing vitality on the page.
- Benton Sans (1995-2003). Created by Tobias frere-Jones and Cyrus Highsmith, it is a revival of Benton's 1903 family, News Gothic, and one of Font Bureau's bestsellers. It is a very complete family, ranging from regular widths to Condensed, Compressed and ExtraCompressed subfamilies. The Small Caps set is complete as well.
- Benton Modern (1997-2001). Benton Modern was originally undertaken by Tobias Frere-Jones to improve text at The Boston Globe. Widening the text face for the Detroit Free Press, he returned Century's proportions to Morris Fuller Benton's turn-of-the-century ATF Century Expanded, successfully reviving the great news text type. The italic, based on Century Schoolbook Italic, was designed by Richard Lipton and Christian Schwartz, who also added the Bold.
- Cafeteria (1993). Font Bureau about this cartoonish font: The irregularities normally found in script can enliven sans-serif letterforms. In Cafeteria, Tobias Frere-Jones took special care to balance activity with legibility on the paper napkin that served as his sketchpad, drawing a freeform sans-serif that is condensed but in no way stiff.
- Citadel (1995).
- CochinOldstyle (1992), CochinBlack (1991).
- Eldorado (1993-1994).
- Epitaph (1993). Drawn around 1880 at the Boston Type Foundry (the Boston branch of American Type Founders), Epitaph was modeled on a graceful Art Nouveau letterform that was bringing a new vitality to gravestone inscriptions at the time. The energy and life of the Vienna Secession alphabet drew the attention of Tobias Frere-Jones, who digitized the original set of titling capitals and added alternate characters for its Font Bureau release.
- Garage Gothic (1992). In three weights, it is based on parking garage ticket lettering but very reminiscent of license plate characters.
- Grand Central (1998). Grand Central was designed for 212 Associates from late-twenties capitals hand-painted on the walls of Grand Central Station. Font Bureau writes: The design is a distinguished Beaux Arts descendant of the great French Oldstyle originated by Louis Perrin in Lyons in 1846, known across Europe as Elzevir and in the U.S. as De Vinne.
- Griffith Gothic (1997-2000). A revival of Chauncey Griffith's telephone book directory typeface, Bell Gothic (1937-1938).
- Hightower (1994-1996). A Venetian typeface originally done for the Journal of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. Font Bureau: Dissatisfied with others' attempts to bring Nicholas Jenson's 1470 roman up to date, Frere-Jones prepared his version of this calligraphic roman, with his own personal italic.
- Interstate (1993, Font Bureau). Done for the United States Federal Highway Administration, but later released as a type family by Font Bureau. Interstate Mono (done with Christian Schwartz) followed in 2000, also at Font Bureau. The family is a reinterpretation of Highway Gothic, which has been the official typeface for American highway signage for decades. Its design is ultimately based on signage alphabets developed in the late 1940s by Dr. Theodore Forbes, assisted by J.E. Penton and E.E. Radek.
- Miller. A Scotch Roman finished in 1997 together with Matthew Carter and Cyrus Highsmith at Font Bureau.
- Niagara (1994). Almost a skyline typeface. Contains Niagara engraved.
- FB Nobel (1993). An exquisite geometric sans family based on old ideas of De Roos at Amsterdam who explored alternative character sets to enliven basic Futura forms. Frere-Jones views Nobel as Futura cooked in dirty pots and pans. FB Nobel showcased. The Extra Lights were added by Cyrus Highsmith and Dyana Weissman.
- Pilsner (1995). A beer bottle typeface. Font Bureau: Sitting in a Paris cafe with a bottle of beer, Tobias Frere-Jones gave his attention to the label. It was set in a roman design wearing blackletter-like clothes, probably to suggest an origin in Alsace or points to the East. Unable to forget the design, with its blocky, straight line emphasis, Tobias designed Pilsner, an exercise in straight lines in an angle-centered scheme.
- Poynter Old Style (1997, Font Bureau).
- FB Reactor (1996). This was first a FUSE7 font in 1993). Reactor destroys itself as it is put to use.
- Reiner Script (1993). Based on a 1951 brush script by Imre Reiner (ATF).
- Stereo (1993). After a typeface by Karlgeorg Hoefer, 1963 (Font Bureau says 1968).
At FontFont, he designed the children's fonts FF Dolores (1991) and FF Dolores Cyrillic.
At FUSE 15, he designed Microphone (1996). At FUSE 10, he published Fibonacci, a font consisting just of lines.
His custom work includes WorthGothic (1996), WorthLogo1996 (1995), WorthText (1995), GQGothic (1995), Halifax, Commonwealth (1995), Belizio-TwentySix (Font Bureau), HermanMillerLogo (1999, Font Bureau). Cassandra, Vitriol (1993), Quandry (1992-1994) and Chainletter (1993).
Retina Agate (2001, specially made for small-print stock listings at the Wall Street Journal) netted him a Bukvaraz 2001 award and an AIGA 2003 Design Award.
From 1999 until 2014, he designed for the Hoefler Type Foundry, which he joined as an equal partner (and the new company became Hoefler & Frere-Jones (in 2004), or H&FJ). He claims that he brought with him to H&FJ a lot of typefaces including Whitney, Whitney Titling, Elzevir, Welo Script, Archipelago (Shell Sans), Type 0, Saugerties, Greasemonkey, Vive, Apiana, and Esprit Clockface. It is not expicitly stated at the H&FJ site which typefaces he had a hand in, but one can safely assume that it must have been nearly every typeface made since he entered into the partnership. In 2014, Tobias sued Jonathan for half of the company in a 20-to-80 million dollar lawsuit since he claims that Hoefler reneged on his promise to give him his half. The typefaces at H&FJ he had a hand in include:
Archer (2001, by Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere Jones). A humanist slab serif originally designed for Martha Stewart Living. It has a great range of features, including a classy hairline style. Some say that Archer is just Stymie with some ball terminals. Nevertheless, it became a grand hit, and has been used by Wes Anderson in The Budapest Hotel, and by Wells Fargo for its branding. David Earls on Archer: with its judicious yet brave use of ball terminals, and blending geometry with sexy cursive forms, all brought together with the kind of historical and intellectual rigour you fully expect from this particular foundry, Archer succeeds where others falter.
- HTF Retina (2002). For use in the Wall Street Journal.
- Gotham (2001). A sans serif done with the help of Jesse M. Ragan. In fact, the orignal design in 2000 was for GQ magazine. Read about it here. In 2007, he published the rounded version Gotham Round. Gotham was used in 2008 by Obama in his presidential campaign. Joshua Brustein (Business Week): Gotham is one hell of a typeface. Its Os are round, its capital letters sturdy and square, and it has the simplicity of a geometric sans without feeling clinical. The inspiration for Gotham is the lettering on signs at the Port Authority, manly works using "the type of letter that an engineer would make," according to Tobias Frere-Jones, who is widely credited with designing the font for GQ magazine in 2000. Critics have praised Gotham as blue collar, nostalgic yet exquisitely contemporary, and simply self evident. It's also ubiquitous. Gotham has appeared on Netflix (NFLX) envelopes, Coca-Cola (KO) cans, and in the Saturday Night Live logo. It was on display at the Museum of Modern Art from 2011 to 2012 and continues to be part of the museum's permanent collection. It also helped elect a president: In 2008, Barack Obama's team chose Gotham as the official typeface of the campaign and used it to spell out the word HOPE on its iconic posters. Hoefler produced versions in 2016 such as Gotham Office and Gotham Narrow Office.
- Cyclone (2003).
- In 2010, he and Jonathan Hoefler designed the sans family Forza.
- Giant (2003).
- Knoz (2003).
- Topaz (2003).
- Verlag (2006). Developed together with Jonathan Hoefler.
- Whitney (2004). This is an amazing 58-style sans family designed for the Whitney Museum, but now generally avalaible from Hoefler, and touted as a great family for infographics. A derivative, Whitney-K, is the house font of Kodak. Whitney's sales blurb: While American gothics such as News Gothic (1908) have long been a mainstay of editorial settings, and European humanists such as Frutiger (1975) have excelled in signage applications, Whitney bridges this divide in a single design. Its compact forms and broad x-height use space efficiently, and its ample counters and open shapes make it clear under any circumstances.
- With Hoefler, he collaborated on projects for The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Nike, Pentagram, GQ, Esquire, The New Times, Business 2.0, and The New York Times Magazine. In all, he has designed over five hundred typefaces for retail publication, custom clients, and experimental purposes. His clients have included The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, The Whitney Museum, The American Institute of Graphic Arts Journal, and Neville Brody. He has lectured at Rhode Island School of Design (from which he graduated with a BFA in 1992), Yale School of Art, Pratt Institute, Royal College of Art, and Universidad de las Americas. His work has been featured in How, ID, Page, and Print, and is included in the permanent collection of the Victoria&Albert Museum, London.
Interview. Interviewed by Dmitri Siegel. He created Estupido Espezial for fun, but it actually made it into an issue of Rollingstone. Catalog of his typefaces at Font Bureau. Keynote speaker at Typecon 2014.
View typefaces designed by Tobias frere-Jones. Another page with typefaces created by Tobias Frere-Jones.
Frere Jones Type
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