Typography Research- Pocket profile

Jonathan Hoefler

I wanted to do more research into typography, it’s a topic I want to learn more about. So I watched another Abstract episode that was based on typeface design and the very well known type designer- Jonathan Hoefler. Jonathan Hoefler was described as being one of the most influential type designers of this generation, he is completely aware of time and place and is quite the perfectionist. He owns typography.com and works with a team of designers in New York City.


Jonathan Hoefler’s work

This documentary dove into Hoefler’s work and his strategies to creating a typeface. It went into detail about his own typeface called ‘Knockout’. Hoefler explained the goal of type is – balance and he talked in depth of the steps to designing a typeface, it can be a slow process that may even take decades. He said his job is like solving hundreds of puzzles, working out the small details to make the pieces fit.


Jonathan has done work for huge companies such as sports illustrated and the Rolling Stones magazines. I especially liked his work he did for the Guggenheim museum, the new lettering is very sophisticated. He has also done work for Apple and Tiffany and Co. Hoefler described how working for Apple got him to think about different devices, and how you need to work out how it will look on different screens and platforms. This is a big aspect of designing a typeface in todays society.




What I found interesting about Hoefler is that he gets a lot of his inspiration for his typefaces from old watches that were made 40 years ago. As well as this he gets a lot of ideas from graphic designers around him in New York, he explained that he grew up surrounded by Paulas Schers work.

‘Type has a cultural dimension to it’.


Jonathan Hoefler talked about how you can’t beat primary sources and that he always goes back to the best influencers, which is books. His typeface ‘Decimal’ came to a halt in the design process so Hoefler took a step back and looked at old map designs and found a solution to his problem.

I also found it really eye opening when Hoefler illustrated how as designers we shouldn’t be scared to abandon a project or idea if it doesn’t work out, that is life and sometimes our ideas don’t go to plan. Which I think is an important thing to remember. He also encourages designers to try something new each time, Hoefler mentioned he is motivated by the idea that he is not repeating his work.



‘Squeeze the brief, look at things from a different angle.’

I particularly liked this quote from Hoefler. to squeeze the brief and to see what more I could add to a project to make it better. I should think about how I can stretch the boundaries of my own briefs and reflecting back on this pocket profile, I think that I can take away a number of new lessons, such as:

  1. Inspiration can be in the most unlikely of places.
  2. It’s okay if projects or ideas don’t work out, it is about trying.
  3. To try something new each time I design and try not to repeat ideas.

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