Bold Monday: Offbeat and Steady

Since establishing Bold Monday in 2008, founders Paul van der Laan and Pieter van Rosmalen have been pouring their vast experience into the project, and their foundry has slowly and resolutely built a reputation for releasing first-rate, imaginative typefaces.

“In the early nineties I enrolled as a student in the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) graphic design course,” recalls van der Laan. “Type design was an integral part of that course, with half a day dedicated to that subject every week three years, and I got hooked on it immediately. In the whole department only a few of us were really into it — we could lose ourselves in discussions about the latest Neville Brody designs for Fuse for instance — but we really bonded over it, and the nice thing is that I am still in contact with many of those people who were my fellow students then. After graduation I worked in web design in a design agency (HTML 2.0! Netscape 3.0!), and after two years I decided I wanted to pursue my passion for type design instead, so I resigned and went back to study one more year at the postgraduate course in type design at KABK, (the precursor of the current Type & Media masters program), and afterwards got invited to teach there.”

Macula

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Van Rosmalen followed a similar path: “Between 1989 and 1993 I studied design and advertising at Sint Lucas in Boxtel. After graduation I worked for eight years in various design and advertising firms in the southern part of The Netherlands and in Amsterdam. During that time I developed a love for type and typography, and designed my first typefaces, which were almost all constructed and grid-based, or heavily grunge-inspired, like many display typefaces back then. In 2001, alongside my job, I resumed studying at the postgraduate course in type design at KABK, where Paul was teaching. One of my graduation projects was the grid-based typeface Capibara, which is part of the current Bold Monday retail collection.”

“After Pieter finished the course,” van der Laan continues, “we kept in contact on a very irregular basis. Years later when he decided to go freelance we sometimes helped each other out with bigger type projects. We each ran our own one-man type companies for some time until we got invited to design an exclusive typeface family for Audi in 2008. Realizing that that job would require us to work together for an extended time, we decided to join forces and create a new company to carry our combined library of typefaces. And that was how Bold Monday came into being.”

“What makes type design so exciting to me nowadays is that never before have we had access to so many powerful tools for making fonts. And never before have we had access to so much knowledge about font technology, type history, and writing systems.” — Paul van der Laan

Though the partners now live in different cities, (van der Laan in The Hague, van Rosmalen in Eindhoven), they talk daily and meet face-to-face every month. “Our roles usually define themselves organically depending on what is needed for a particular project,” van der Laan explains. “Even though we are both type designers first and foremost, we have many skills that complement each other. For instance, Pieter is great in defining the overall design of a new typeface quite quickly, whereas I’m more interested in the fine details and the technical bits such as programming and hinting. Apart from our design roles we also had to completely discover our roles in everything else that running a foundry requires: logistics, finances, promotion, etc. For the last few years we’ve also had people working for us, either as long-distance freelancers or as employees who work (partly) in my studio. This has been a great enhancement to our foundry because you get more feedback and more lively discussions.”

Little by little, Bold Monday has developed a broad catalog which includes the manifold Nitti family (van Rosmalen, 2007–16), the all-caps, art deco-esque Oskar (van der Laan 2002–13), the Kaart Antiecke revival Trio Grotesk (Florian Schick, 2011), and Panno Sign (van Rosmalen, 2008–10), originally designed for the romanization of street names in South Korea. Its sibling, Panno Text, inspired a custom family commissioned in 2013 by Irma Boom for her design of the Rijksmuseum’s identity and communications. How does Bold Monday balance custom and retail work?

Nitti

Oskar

Trio Grotesk

Panno Text

“Custom projects were mostly what kept us afloat in the early days,” van der Laan remembers, “and they provided a means for us to dedicate time to our personal projects (if there was any time left of course!) so for a long time the retail collection was mostly our pet project that generated a bit of money on the side, and we cherished it. Nowadays retail sales make up a larger part of our revenue, but the retail part of the business is still a pet project in the sense that we only want to release work that we feel really strongly about. Some retail typefaces are the result of custom work, but most of them are fresh designs, often from other designers. That way we hope to maintain a healthy balance between custom and retail typefaces.”

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Bold Monday font families available to rent on Fontstand for a fraction of their retail price.

Bold Monday’s latest releases, Buendia (César Puertas, 2015) and Mala (Barbara Bigosińska, 2016), both substantial and complex text families, reflect the foundry’s interest in supporting young talents and diversifying its output, as do the forthcoming projects teased by van der Laan: “First in line is a gorgeous display typeface by Aleksandra Samuļenkova. Just like Mala and Buendia, this is another Type & Media graduation project that we are happy to welcome into our library. After that there will be an extensive classical serif family by Mike Abbink that has been in the works for years, and was originally developed for the German broadcasting company WDR. Following that will be a uniquely expressive serif typeface by my good friend Eyal Holtzman. He is working on the bold weights at the moment, and hopefully we can put the finishing touches on it next year.

Buendia

Mala

“As for custom projects, we are currently working on a huge family for an American client that will liberate them from the clutches of Helvetica. The family also includes a very funky monospace that will be distributed for free. Expect to see more of this in the course of 2017.”

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