Ogentroost typeface

10 Mar 2011

A while ago I received a thank you letter from a Dutch reader for sending him a free ticket for the exhibition Super Normal at Design Museum Ghent. That letter was accompanied by this beautifully designed leaflet from graphic designer Diederik Corvers. I remember clearly that I was so facinated by the way the leaflet was folded and how I could fold it open into a poster. What I remember even better was this perfectly shaped elegant typeface called Ogentroost designed by Diederik.

For the Dutch speaking among us, you can't deny, the name is really very well chosen. Not sure how I would translate that into English, but I think it would be something like 'comfort for the eyes'. Isn't that just perfect for a name of a typeface? I'm really honored I got the chance to ask its creator a few questions…

Ogentroost special folded leaflet and poster.

Designing typefaces is really difficult. It's a speciality on its own, and you definitely need a profound background on typography to create a good typeface. Was typography only part of your design education, or did you study a specialization on typography?

Actually I have never been formally trained to be a type designer, although my thesis project at the Design Academy, which was a series of posters for Rosas dance company, involved a specially designed typeface; the origin of Ogentroost. As my teachers told me they could not help me, I turned to Martin Majoor for guidance, which meant a lot to me and in the end, after I put aside my stubbornness, for the typeface as well. That was more than 15 years ago and I have been learning since then, mostly through trial & error, which explains why my type designs take so long to finish.

Ogentroost special folded leaflet and poster.

When you start a typeface design, are there any particular letters of the alphabet that you tend to start with? Is there a particular order?

There are some characters that define the, errrr, character of the typeface; the 'a', 'n', 'e' for the lower case, the 'R' and 'G' for the capitals can tell a lot about the direction the shapes are taking. Very often a typeface starts out as a handful of letters in the logo for a customer, and then I think "hey, I've drawn 10 letters, only sixteen to go!", at which point I tend to forget the alphabet consists of more than 26 letters and that the work involved in making a typeface is almost without end.

The design process of Ogentroost typeface: letters in ink.

The design process of Ogentroost typeface: corrections and improvements.

The origin of Ogentroost was born from a thesis project for a dance company called Rosas, which involved a series of posters with a special designed typeface.

Did you have this particular style of typeface in mind when you got started on the design? Or did it kind of happen while experimenting?

The Ogentroost typeface grew out of the italic I designed for the 'Rosas' poster series; it had to be contemporary, feminine and full of rhythm while being based on a classical foundation. I did know from the start it had to be a sans serif, for which I looked at drawings by Eric Gill. The rhythm in the italic came from the writings of 15th century calligraphers like Ludovico dell' Arrighi.

What inspired and influenced you to create this typeface?

As I said it was made for Rosas; I love modern ballet and the motions and gestures of the dancers can be found in the shapes of the characters. In my lecture at TypoBerlin 2010 "Bach, behinds & Béziers" I told the story of how Ogentroost came to be and also shared my other major influences: the Porsche 911 and my first muse (the second one just gave birth to my son: his birth announcement is set in Ogentroost Bold Caps).

Inspired by 15th century calligraphers such as Ludovico dell' Arrighi. The Ogentroost typeface grew out of the italic of the 'Rosas' poster series; it had to be contemporary, feminine and full of rhythm while being based on a classical foundation.

Can you reveal some of the design process? Which application(s) do you use to design typefaces?

I start by drawing in pen or pencil. My older faces, like Ogentroost, were also drawn in ink (which is a long process which I love, as it gives one the time to evaluate and adjust while drawing) others are scanned into the computer after I have a general idea what the parameters of the font are and it really takes shape on my screen. I usually draw in Illustrator and then copy the drawings to FontLab, where I not only work on the metrics but refine the contours as well.

The Ogentroost typeface used for Ikebana (Dutch association to stimulate Japanese flower arranging).

Where to buy?

The typeface is still in the last stage of its creation process. Some technical aspects are currently taken care of. Once this is all ready and set, it will be available to buy. This will most likely be in the very near future. Meanwhile another typeface designed by Diederik called Suomi is already made available for sale.


  1. 1 James Veluya 10 Mar 2011

    Wow, truly nice!

  2. 2 Rob Cubbon 10 Mar 2011

    Beautiful typeface!

  3. 3 George 11 Mar 2011

    Admittedly, typeface design is like an alien world to me, but this was a cool article.

    On a side note, I don’t think I’ll ever look at a lower-case “a” in the same way again. :-)