Cover designed by Nick Sherman. The black-on-black ampersand pattern with shining varnish is wonderful when holding a touchable copy, but doesn’t reproduce well on the web. Alas — nothing like real bookshops.

Title page with frontispiece. Anthony is pretending to hold a poster by Brazilian student Eduardo Uzae, designed with Jos Buivenga’s Museo.

Opening page of Rian Hughes interview, with his design for a book he had just edited.

Dubble page from the David Berlow interview, with work by Nicholas Felton (with Titling Gothic) and by Gert Dooreman (all with the Rhode family).

Spread from the Underware interview.

The only chapter in the book that was designed by Nick Sherman. He loves large glyphs.

Creative Characters

The MyFonts interviews Vol. 1

When I joined MyFonts, there was only one monthly newsletter — Rising Stars. Just a couple of months before I started writing it, the somewhat bland copywriting about new fonts had been supplemented by a short monthly interview. I did a couple more, and then Kevin Woodward had the ambitious idea to add another monthly newsletter, which would be taken up completely by an interview. We started the Creative Characters series in July 2007, with the rather unknown Swedish designer Hans Samuelson. I followed it up with a succession of type design stars – David Berlow, Christian Schwarz, Underware, Jim Parkinson, Nick Shinn –, more elitist heroes – František Štorm, Dino dos Santos, Mário Feliciano – to successful small-time hobbyists such as Ellinor Maria Rapp. And that’s just the first year.

Mid-2009 I proposed to collect the first 25-or-so interviews in a book, and MyFonts agreed. I briefly looked around in the USA for a publisher, but nobody seemed interested – financial crisis had struck, and publishers weren’t very eager to try out new things. But BIS in Amsterdam liked the idea. A little complication: after producing the cover design and one or two chapters, designer Nick Sherman decided to leave MyFonts. I couldn’t wait for the new designer to be hired by MyFonts, started doing it myself and got overworked. Then in one morning, through an online ad, I found Anthony Noel, a Brit in Berlin, who could proofread, design, and do the project management. A huge piece of luck for both of us. Anthony eventually landed an almost full-time job at MyFonts, and we went on working on the newsletters together for 5 years.

The book seemed like a very good idea at the time. True, the interviews were all online. But I’d collected such a wonderful set of images: big samples, fonts in use, lettering. And a book on type has so much added value compared to a meter-long scroll on the web… It turned out that wasn’t quite true. People who bought the book liked it, but they were relatively few. The thousands of copies sold very slowly.

And so the subtitle, The MyFonts interviews Vol. 1, turned out to be a bit presumptuous. There was never a Volume 2.

Which is a pity. I did (almost) exactly 100 interviews for the series. My last one, with Emigre’s Zuzana Licko, was in June 2016, when I had already quit the MyFonts team, and had passed on the interviews to a group of writers. Only one quarter of my interviews made it into the book. Some of the rest were at least as good as the early ones, possibly more surprising — Richard Lipton, Jonathan Barnbrook, Natalia Vasilyeva, Gerard Unger, Ludwig Übele, Melle Diete, Dieter Hofrichter, Steve Matteson, Bruno Maag, Ramiro Espinoza, Wesler Coan, Type-Ø-Tones, Sibylle Hagmann, Ulrike Wilhelm, Rosetta, Rui Abreu, Matthew Carter, Latinotype, Typejockeys, René Bieder, Julia Sysmäläinen, Verena Gerlach, Sumner Stone, Sabrina Lopez, and so many more.

I wish I could have made two or three more of those books. People would have liked them, eventually.

Texts, editing and image research by JM
Basic design by Nick Sherman
Design, typesetting, more image research by Anthony Noel