The Arnhem based one-man foundry exljbris was founded in 2004 by Dutchman Jos Buivenga. Buivenga worked for several decades as an art director before creating his first fonts. The way he came to prominence as a type designer is fairly uncommon. For years, his online friends and fans could follow the development of his typefaces via his website and blog, and download the results for free. These became the foundation of exljbris, a new type library informed by a type user’s experience. In 2008, while still working at an advertising agency, he released his first commercial typeface Museo with several weights offered for free. That strategy paid off and Museo became a bestseller. Several typefaces and one bankrupt employer later, he now works full time at exljbris Font Foundry.
Although he now sells his typefaces, Jos Buivenga still offers one weight per family for free, and his typefaces are very competitively priced. Here is an overview of the exljbris typefaces.
This highly original design began with Buivenga’s love for the letter ‘U’. The uppercase for Museo came to him as in a dream – a single stroke with ends bent outwards to form slab-like terminals. He extended this concept into a full set of capitals. Although his original intention was to make an all-caps display font, Buivenga changed his mind. He wanted Museo to be more versatile, so he subsequently developed a lowercase, then additional weights, and eventually a matching Sans family and a more conventional Slab family. All three variations are clean, legible faces and excellent alternatives to overused typefaces from the entire spectrum of sans and slab serif classifications.
Museo Sans is a sans serif companion based on the popular Museo. This sturdy, low contrast, geometric, highly legible design is very well suited for any display and text use. It also has italics for all five weights.
With the addition of Museo Slab the Museo suite of type families entered the category of type systems with more than two variants, like Thesis, FF Nexus, Rotis, etc… This design is a robust slab serif with Museo’s friendliness; a perfect match for Museo Sans.
Anivers is a robust and rigid, flexible, and elegant sans serif. Monolinear strokes take unexpected turns, get thinner at the joins, and end at an angle in this novel design. Suitable for branding, infographics, and short texts; from stationery to poster headlines.
Jos Buivenga describes Fertigo as “the font nobody was waiting for. It’s a bit like Laphroaig; they say that the more you’ll get to know it, the more you (probably) will appreciate it.” A sinuous sans serif with a nod to brush-made forms, Fertigo Pro is more than a pretty face, it’s a professional tool. Central European and Turkish langauges are supported. It also comes as a fine connected script with a lyrical calligraphic touch.
Jos Buivenga’s first attempt to make a text face was a serious one, the fruit of over 18 months of labour. Surprisingly Calluna was born more or less by accident. When taking a break from designing Museo Buivenga started to fiddle a bit, to see if a full slab serif would be worth looking into. The first thing that came to mind was to attach slab serifs to the stems of Museo. Buivenga liked the result so much – asymmetrical slab-serifs with a direction – that he ended up using this idea for something he always had wanted to do: designing a rather serious text face. His goal was to find the right balance in the design between being sufficiently robust to function as a text face, and having enough refinement and interesting details to look good as display type. Calluna’s unusual serif structure gives the letters a forward-leaning flow and paragraphs set in the face make for an effortless read.
Jos Buivenga has recently teamed up with Arnhem type design icon Martin Majoor – designer of FF Scala, one of the influential serif faces of the nineties, and its close relatives FF Seria and FF Nexus. It all began after they met at the 33pt. Symposium in Dortmund where they both gave a lecture. Buivenga and Majoor had known each other from the Academy of Fine Arts in Arnhem, but they had not seen each other for about 25 years. After a few meetings they decided that they wanted to do a type design project together.
Questa in progress, a squarish Didot-like face that Jos originally had planned in one display style only, was a perfect basis to apply upon Martin’s type design philosophy about the form principle of serif and sans, as advanced in an article for Eye Magazine about the origin of the sans serif and Helvetica’s plagiarism. To be continued…