Ondrej Jób is a graphic designer and type designer from Liptovský Hrádok and currently living and working in Bratislava, Slovakia. His projects often utilizes his own custom lettering which bring an essential sense of vitality to his work. He has released the award winning Klimax through Typotheque and other retail typefaces via Myfonts. Recent projects include Ico (an icon typeface family) as well as the redesign of the Typotheque website.
As a graphic designer and a type designer, what role does type design play in your work?
I think having the skills and the ability to design letters has made me more sensitive about typography and typographic flaws, compared to a ‘regular’ graphic designer. For example, in the Slovak language, we have an alternative form of caron used with the lowercase l and d, sadly there are so many graphic designers here in Slovakia who just use the apostrophe or the acute mark if they can’t find the right caron in their fonts. It catches my attention every time I see badly treated typography … I think I would make a good typographic police officer.
As a graphic designer I always have an image of the final product in my head; the colors, composition and typography. Every so often I can’t seem to find a fitting typeface for my vision, so I design it myself. Having the option and the ability to do this is really cool.
What are your thoughts on the difference between designing a typeface versus lettering or logotypes? How does your process differ?
The limited amount of letters that need to be drawn in a lettering makes it easier than designing a full character set in a typeface. For instance, you don’t have to care about how to apply the style of the letters to the numbers or be concerned that there’s no way to make a lowercase ‘g’ within a certain style – simply because there are no numbers or a ‘g’ in your lettering. In typeface design, a character has to work within unforeseen circumstances, and with every other character in the font. In lettering the context of each letter is given, and it’s really like solving a simple puzzle.
The process isn’t very different for me. Most of my typeface designs came out of lettering assignments and most of the time when I am working on a lettering project I’m already thinking about a possible future transformation into a full typeface. I think the fixed content of a lettering makes it more enjoyable and fun to design than spending a long time working on a typeface, but the versatility and possibilities of a real font always pay off too.
What are your influences? What inspires you?
Of course, everything visual inspires me. Mostly graphic stuff and letters, but it could also be places I visit or anything I see while moving around my current environment. My influences change quite often. Usually when I see or do something I’m happy with, I spend some time exploring more facets of the thing and it may eventually become a short-term influence. But I have some constant influences as well, I’m really into comics, classic Hanna-Barbera animations, illustration, art of Eastern Asia or the visual stuff from our late communist years here in Slovakia.
Do you have any specific rules or methodology when approaching a new type design or lettering project?
I think I sketch a little bit more than other people and I like to exaggerate the letterforms when drawing because I believe it’s much easier to capture the right character of the letters this way. It’s no problem to tame the outlines in computer later, I want to use all the freedom that paper gives me. Also, I save, bookmark and collect ideas and inspiring stuff I like and go back to it from time to time. Sometimes I’m surprised with what I find in my archives.
Is there a defining characteristic for contemporary type design and lettering in Slovakia? How do you see yourself fitting in the design culture there?
There are so few designers that do type design or lettering in Slovakia, that it is hard to define even some general characteristics. We don’t have a sizable tradition or masters of this craft so we mostly look towards the West in search for information and inspiration. I’d say the designers here are getting this input in huge quantities and the way they digest it is very diverse. It’s a small community of designers here in Bratislava, it feels really good to be part of a design culture where you personally know most of the designers. In November 1989, the communist regime ended in Czechoslovakia, and I think the effects of the open environment we were thrown into overnight is not only visible in our society and economy today but in our design scene as well. I mean, this is a good thing, the fact that design is evolving and maturing here is exciting, and I am quite optimistic about the development of our design culture.
Ondrej Jób holds an MA degree in graphic design from Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovakia (2008) and in type design from TypeMedia masters program at The Royal Academy of Arts (KABK) in Den Haag, the Netherlands (2009).