Akira Kobayashi is a very unusual breed of type designer. Although he lives in his native Japan, Kobayashi excels at designing Latin-based alphabets. He has created fonts for Adobe, FontFont, Linotype and ITC.
In Europe and North America, type design is generally viewed as a solitary craft – individual designers working in isolation on the various stages of typeface design and font production. Its a very different work ethic for type designers working in Asia. Because there are more than 7,000 characters in a typical font, teams of five to six designers will work together for two or more years to produce a new commercial font.
Kobayashi was involved in several projects like these while working for Sha-Ken Company, Ltd., a Japanese manufacturer of phototypesetting machines. Occasionally, he would design Latin characters and Arabic numerals to accompany the Japanese fonts. As the requests for Latin characters increased, Kobayashi knew he had to have a better handle on the English language. "This is because the books available to me on the Latin alphabet were almost always written in English. Also, I knew that if I wasnt very familiar with the western alphabet, I could not know if the characters I drew would be acceptable to a western reader."
|Akira Kobayashi at work in his studio|