The faces behind 20 famous typefaces

Typefaces are part of our daily lives as visual communicators, we use type in logo design, web design and other ‘facets’ of graphic design. There are literally hundreds of thousands of fonts available; some free, some commissioned, some good, some bad and some over-used. Below is a collection of some of the world’s well-known typefaces and a short bio of the typographers who designed them.

Max Miedinger

A Swiss typeface designer, He was famous for creating Helvetica in 1957. Marketed as a symbol of cutting-edge Swiss technology, Helvetica went global at once.

Adrian Frutiger

One of the prominent typeface designers of the twentieth century, who continues influencing the direction of digital typography in the twenty-first century; he is best known for creating the typefaces Univers and Frutiger.

Claude Garamond

A Parisian publisher. He was one of the leading type designers of his time, and several contemporary typefaces, including those named GaramondGranjon, and Sabon show his influence.

George W. Jones

George W.Jones(1860-1942) was one of the most respected and celebrated fine printers of his generation. He entered the printing business in 1873 (at the young age of 13) and joined the printing house of Raithby & Lawrence in 1883. In 1889 he became an independent printer and publisher adopting vigorous business policies towards graphic design and technology.

Jan Tschichold

A typographer, book designer, teacher and writer trained in calligraphy. This artisan background and calligraphic training set him apart from almost all other noted typographers of the time, since they had inevitably trained in architecture or the fine arts.

John Baskerville

An English businessman, in areas including japanning and papier-mâché, but he is best remembered as a printer and typographer. Baskerville was responsible for significant innovations in printing, paper and ink production.

He developed a technique which produced a smoother whiter paper which showcased his strong black type. Baskerville also pioneered a completely new style of typography adding wide margins and leading between each line.

Matthew Carter

A type designer who lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Carter’s career in type design has witnessed the transition from physical metal type to digital type.

Paul Renner

A typeface designer, most notably of Futura. He was born in Wernigerode, Germany and died in Hödingen. He created a new set of guidelines for good book design and invented the popular Futura, a geometric sans-serif font used by many typographers throughout the 20th century and up till the present.

Monotype Imaging Inc.

A typesetting and typeface design company (type foundry) responsible for many developments in printing technology — in particular the Monotype machine which was the first fully mechanical typesetter — and the design and production of typefaces in the 19th and 20th centuries. Its most widely known product, by far, is the font Times New Roman.

Carol Twombly

American calligrapher and typeface designer who has designed many typefaces, including Trajan, Myriad and Adobe Caslon. She worked as a type designer at Adobe Systemsfrom 1988 through 1999, during which time she designed, or contributed to the design of many typefaces. She retired from type design in early 1999.

Eric Gill

British sculptortypeface designer, stonecutter and printmaker, who was associated with the Arts and Crafts movement. Today he is a controversial figure, with his well known religious views and subject matter being seen at odds with his sexual and paraphiliac behaviour and erotic art.

Charles A. Bigelow

A type historian, professor, and designer. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 1982. Along with Kris Holmes, he is the co-creator of Lucida and Wingdings font families. He runs the Bigelow and Holmes foundry.

Kris Holmes

A type designer, she is with Charles Bigelow the co-creator of the Lucida font family. She received her B.A. from Harvard University and her MFA from UCLA Film School in Animation. She has taught at Portland State University.

Vincent Connare

A former Microsoft in-house font designer. Amongst his creations are the Comic Sans font, and the Trebuchet MS font, both of which ship as standard on current releases of Microsoft Windows.

  • Stephen Tiano Said:

    Carol Twombley’s work is extraordinary. The three types shown above are wonderful. As a book designer and typographer, I’ve used Adobe Caslon and Myriad a number of times. As an avid moviegoer, I recognize Trajan from its use in titling.

    I so sorry Ms. Twombley retired at what seems to have been the height of her creativity. And I’m just as sorry we apparently don’t see any new work of hers since then.
    — On March 6th, 2009 at 4:17 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Stephen Tiano,

    I agree, Carol’s work is indeed remarkable. I believe Trajan is best suited for titles as it would be hard to read if used for long body copy.

    Welcome and thanks for stopping by.
    — On March 6th, 2009 at 10:06 am [permarlink]
  • Stephen Tiano Said:

    Yes, movie titling, specifically, from what I’ve seen.

    As for Ms. Twombley, I wonder how a talent like that quit at what seemed like the peak of her creativity. I can’t imagine that she just walked away to never create again, but I’ve never heard of her work anywhere since.

    Know anything about that?
    — On March 6th, 2009 at 11:33 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Stephen Tiano,

    I don’t know anything in regards to what she is up to now, as I also have never heard anything about her work apart from the above listed typefaces.
    — On March 6th, 2009 at 2:40 pm [permarlink]
  • Arthur C. Van Wyk Said:

    Who are the creators of Cachet Bold (new Pick ‘n Pay font), Klavika (facebook logo font) and Hermes?
    — On March 6th, 2009 at 3:44 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Arthur C. Van Wyk,

    Dave Farey designed Cachet, Matthew Butterick and Heinz Hoffmann are credited for designing Hermes. Klavika was created by Process Type Foundry.
    — On March 6th, 2009 at 5:37 pm [permarlink]
  • Dithapelo Kgonyane Said:

    Hi Mokokoma,

    Thank you for educating us, I didn’t know this typefaces were created/named after certain individuals because of their history.

    I normally use Baskerville for writing letters and other topics as part of written communication, well i must say “education and knowledge goes a long way”
    — On March 10th, 2009 at 8:37 pm [permarlink]
  • James Kurtz III Said:

    So now I know that Vincent Connare is to blame for comic sans. It’s unfortunate that the typefaces designed specifically for operating systems weren’t of better quality.

    Hopefully the mistake won’t be made again. Look at Google’s Android operating system. They hired Ascender to design a beautiful family called Droid.
    — On March 10th, 2009 at 9:36 pm [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Dithapelo Kgonyane,

    I’m glad that you learned a thing a two from this post.

    James Kurtz,

    Yes, Vincent Connare is the ‘culprit’. I agree most typefaces native to the operating systems were/are under par, but most companies are now putting more effort by investing in good typographers.
    — On March 11th, 2009 at 9:39 am [permarlink]
  • Tatiana dutra e mello Said:

    Really enjoyed this article — interesting highlights of type history all in one page. Thanks!
    — On June 3rd, 2009 at 1:55 am [permarlink]
  • Mokokoma Mokhonoana Said:

    Tatiana dutra e mello,

    Welcome, I’m glad you found this article both, enjoyable and informative. The pleasure is all mine.
    — On June 3rd, 2009 at 9:53 am [permarlink]
  • Dennis Perko Said:

    There is a spelling error on your site. It’s not “Myraid” it’s “Myriad”
    — On March 20th, 2010 at 5:14 am [permarlink]
  • Caras detrás de algunas de las Fonts más famosas « El Sillón Said:

    […] más aquí Foto: […]
    — On June 23rd, 2010 at 6:07 am [permarlink]
  • Rich Brassil Said:

    Carol Twombley’s “Myraid” sample is spelled wrong… is it not “Myriad”? – R
    — On September 29th, 2011 at 4:26 pm [permarlink]
  • Monique Said:

    this is kool. check it out.
    — On October 31st, 2011 at 5:14 pm [permarlink]
  • Learning Activities- Expressing Meaning (Typography 05) | Maria Svendsen Said:

    […] […]
    — On September 13th, 2014 at 2:20 pm [permarlink]


With this writing I strive to initiate a dialogue, thus, sharing your points of view on this writing is encouraged and will be highly appreciated, whether it supports my points of view or it is of an opposing standpoint. I reserve the right to make adjustments to grammar and spelling mistakes, and to edit or delete comments that are offensive to any of the contributors of this writing.