Most famous German typeface designer and calligraphy artist celebrates his 90th birthday – November 11, 2008

Linotype congratulates Hermann Zapf – a life’s work of more than 200 types

Bad Homburg, November 7 2008. November 8th will mark the 90th birthday of one of the most famous type designers, Professor Hermann Zapf. The type designer, a resident of Darmstadt, has created more than 200 alphabets in his lifetime including the classic Palatino®, Optima®, Zapf Chancery®, and Zapfino® fonts. Besides his work as a type designer, Hermann Zapf is considered to be one of the world’s most reputable calligraphy artists. Linotype GmbH congratulates the native of Nuremberg to his 90th birthday. Hermann Zapf is working as a freelance typeface designer since 1938 for the company based in Bad Homburg.

Since the mid 30s Hermann Zapf is working on designing typefaces. Zapf a retoucher by craft is self-taught in the art of creating alphabets. He published his first font in 1938, a fracture type named Gilgenart. In 1947 he moved to Frankfurt and started working together with the D. Stempel AG, an international type foundry. Until 1956 Herman Zapf headed the creative department there. During this time he created some of his most important typeface families like Palatino and Optima, still among the most popular fonts around the globe.

During the late 50s Hermann Zapf designed books for various publishers including Suhrkamp, Insel Verlag, and Hanser Verlag. It was then he earned his reputation as an exceptional calligraphy artist. In 1960 he wrote down the preamble of the United Nations Charta in four languages fort the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York.

Herman Zapf was one of the first designers to work on processing fonts with computers – a field still in his infancy in the early 60s and looked at skeptically in Germany at that time. Computerized type, standard oiperations today was then believed to be impossible.

While Zapf could not achieve acceptance for his vision in Germany, his ideas were welcomed in the US. He there bridged the gap between graphic designers and computer specialists. In 1972 he designed one of the first alphabets for computer based typesetting one being Marconi Antique amongst others. He started teaching “Typographic Computers Programs” at Rochester Institute of Technology in 1976, the first professorship of its kind. Zapf also taught at the Technische Hochschule Darmstadt from 1977 until 1987. Today he is working as a freelance typeface designer for Linotype GmbH in Bad Homburg. With his diverse typeface families he is considered one of the most successful contemporary designers with his work being imitated in many countries. Zapf was awarded with the Gutenberg-Preis of the city of Mainz in 1974 and is Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts at the University of Illinois.

A duet of typeface design
Hermann Zapf is married to Gudrun Zapf von Hesse since 1951. Zapf von Hesse, a bookbinder by trade, is herself a renowned typeface designer and turned 90 on January 2nd this year. Her most prominent designs include Diotima® Antique (1952) and Smaragd® (1953). Gudrun Zapf von Hesse was awarded the Frederic W. Goudy Award, considered the highest decoration in the US graphical Industry in 1991.

Linotype GmbH, based in Bad Homburg, Germany and a wholly owned subsidiary of Monotype Imaging Holdings Inc., looks back onto a history of more than 120 years. Building on its strong heritage, Linotype develops state-of-the-art font technology and offers more than 10,000 original typefaces, covering the whole typographic spectrum from antique to modern, from east to west, and from classical to experimental. All typefaces (in PostScript™ and TrueType™ format as well as more than 7,000 fonts in OpenType™) are now also available for instant download at In addition to supplying digital fonts, Linotype also offers comprehensive and individual consultation and support services for font applications in worldwide (corporate) communication.

Linotype GmbH
Werner-Reimers-Strasse 2–4
D-61352 Bad Homburg
Tel.: +49 (0) 61 72 - 484 - 0
Fax: +49 (0) 61 72 - 484 - 499
E-Mail: [email protected]

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