Designer Spotlight: Christian Schwartz

Christian Schwartz is one of the world’s most accomplished type designers, and he hasn’t yet hit his 30th birthday. His fonts span the gamut of style from the industrial monospaced Pennsylvania™ to the playful Fritz™ to comprehensive text faces for magazines and newspapers. Premier foundries such as Font Bureau®, Emigre®, and FontFont® have embraced his work.

We only have room in this newsletter to highlight a few of our favorites from this prolific designer. While you explore the goods, learn more about Schwartz’s interests and philosophy straight from the man himself in this entertaining interview with TypeRadio.


Amplitude in Wallpaper Magazine

Amplitude™ (2003) Turning Function into Style

A successful agate (type for tiny text) predicts the spread of ink on paper and effectively keeps legibility under less than ideal conditions. Fascinated by the visual aspects of these entirely functional compensations, Schwartz designed Amplitude, an extensive sanserif series for text and display that turns function into style: deep angled cuts keep small sizes readable, while adding character at display sizes.

The Theories Behind Amplitude & Sketches

FF Bau

Quote and Original Sample Set in FF Bau

FF Bau (2002) Reviving a Forgotten Classic

Helvetica’s earliest direct ancestor, known simply as Grotesk, was first introduced by the Schelter & Giesecke foundry in Leipzig around 1880. The Bauhaus, in nearby Dessau, chose this face as the main workhorse for their printing shop, and used it for the vast majority of their classic experiments in asymmetrical typography. In 1999, Erik Spiekermann asked type designer Christian Schwartz to consider drawing a revival of S&G’s Grotesk, updating the family for contemporary typographic needs without sacrificing the spirit and warmth of the original. The Regular, Medium, and Bold are drawn directly from S&G sources, and the Super was added for situations in which subtlety would be inappropriate. The name FF Bau is an homage to the most noted users of the original.

Bau Character Set


Farnham in Use: Sports Illustrated Magazine & Rolling Stone Magazine

Farnham (2004) Bling From Way Back

German-born punchcutter Johann Fleischman, contemporary of Baskerville and Fournier, worked at the Enschede Foundry in Haarlem. Expert in advanced tools and the qualities of fine steel, he pushed beyond the frontiers of his time, cutting typefaces famous worldwide for their “sparkle.” Schwartz focused on Fleischman’s exuberant angularity, incorporating it into all the styles in his Farnham series.

Words on Farnham Set in Various Weights

Los Feliz

Los Feliz in Use: Emigre No.67 & Absurdistan

Los Feliz (2002) From the Walls of L.A.

The story of Los Feliz starts in Los Angeles, as told by Schwartz’s friend Matt Tragesser: “L.A. is full of amazing typography, especially on signs that are old, homemade, or damaged. If you want to find some unusual vernacular lettering and make a typeface out of it, the stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that runs through Los Feliz is a good place to start. The ethnically diverse area consists mainly of small businesses, and, out of necessity, most of the signage is hand-painted.”

Los Feliz, Inspired By Irregularity

FF Oxide

FF Oxide in Use: Calvin Klein Jeans Logos

FF Oxide (2005) A Unique Cut of Stencil

In college, Schwartz worked at a clothing company where he designed T-shirts and labels. He describes how this led to the development of FF Oxide: “The aesthetic of one of our lines was a mix of industrial and military, so we used a lot of stencil type. I digitized this face because other companies kept ripping off the prints we designed, using readily available fonts. The letters were designed to have as few stencil breaks as possible, making the stencil effect a lot more subtle than usual.”

FF Oxide Source Material



Font used in title graphic: Farnham™ & FF Oxide™.


If you would like to receive FontShop news, including new and free fonts, create a FontShop account. In 30 seconds you will have full control of your FontShop subscriptions.


It’s never our intention to send unwanted email. If you would prefer not to receive FontShop news, click here to unsubscribe. Thanks for helping us keep our list lean.


© 2008 FontShop  |  149 Ninth St, Suite 302  |  San Francisco, CA 94103
US/Canada: 1 888 FF FONTS  |  International: +1 415 252 1003