R is a fascinating letter because it is composed with both straight, curve and oblique lines. It is also the first letter of a great type and graphic designer firstname: Rui Abreu. After studying graphic design at the Faculdade de Belas Artes in Porto, Rui launched his own foundry in 2008, r-typography.com. He designed a lot of awesome fonts like Orbe Pro or Azo Sans and answered a lot of short questions for us!


– Hi Rui!


– Here we go for a lot of short questions!
Who are you?

I’m Rui Abreu, I’m from Portugal and I design typefaces (or try to).

– Nice to meet you!

Glad to meet you too.

How are you?

I’m great! Thanks.

– Where do you work?

I work from home these days.

– Your first meeting with typography?

I first met typography when I was studying graphic design at Porto’s fine arts school. I think that happened around my second year, and it was also by then that I started to realize what communication design was.


– The designer that inspires you most?

I don’t have a particular designer hero, I admire different aspects of different people depending on the day. Anyway, I think a good designer builds his own vision by dwelling in lots of different stuff other than his or her own strict subject. Maybe its the effect of spending long hours with letter-shapes, but I often sense type design as a “microcosm” of all things human, so it’s good to have a perspective on the world.

– Your fetish creation tool?

Right now, probably a thin felt tip brush pen.

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– Your favorite food?


– Your favorite font?

It depends on what I’m working on. I usually have a favorite font or designer that inspires me on whatever I’m designing. For example I’m still getting over my strong fixation for Antique Olive, because it was the inspiration for one of my recent designs.

– The worst font in the world ever for you?

No font in particular either. But I don’t care for fonts that became synonymous with laziness, like Helvetica or others. But anyway it’s not those typefaces’ fault. I guess the same phenomenon happens in the music industry.

– About music, what’s in your Ipod?

On the heavier side I listen to some extreme metal genres, but I interpolate those with jazz and other experimental stuff, so I listen to a lot of different styles. I also keep some video game soundtracks (from the nineties in particular) because, for some reason, they help me when I’m trying to code.

– In an other life, you would have been…?

Some kind of marsupial.

– Your motto?

Embrace contradiction.

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– A letter?

Lowercase “a” for its mood changing powers.

– Who/what is your reference in calligraphy?

I think more in terms of cutout shapes rather than calligraphic or written forms.

– Who/what is your reference in typography?

I could mention a lot of references, but I guess Walter Kæch’s book “Rhythm and Proportion” is one of them, or Fred Smeijers’ “Counterpunch“, or “Signs and Symbols” by Adrian Frutiger. Any book or idea that shaped or changed my perception about type, is a lasting and dear reference to me. Also not all the important references for my work, are from the realm of type design.




– Who/what is your reference in graphic design?

Well, I like Modernism. Both to respect and to transgress.

– One of your favorite words?

Actually, I have the habit of collecting words in my phone’s “Notes”. So I’ll just pick one right now: “Catadupa” (“Waterfall” in Portuguese).

– The 3 best typographical advices that someone gave you?

Narrow down your ideas“, “Typeface design is an art of illusion“, “Let your typeface rest for a couple of weeks“. These may not be the exact words, but its something like that.

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– Your 3 indispensable books?

I’ve already mention some important ones, so I’ll just add some more, Gerard Unger’s “While You’re Reading”, Gerrit Noordzij’s “The Stroke”,  and to mention a more recent one: “Size Specific Adjustments to Type Designs” by Tim Ahrens and Shoko Mugika.

– The 3 websites/blogs/wiki articles to absolutely visit?

Typographica, Ilovetypography and Fontshop news. And if you have to keep your eyes on what you’re doing the 99% Invisible podcast is great.

– What are you working on right now?

I’m working on a family of display and text fonts. It started as a redesign of an early typeface of mine, but it’s turning into a new project.

– Font you very much Rui!

Thank you very much!

Discover more Rui’s work on r-typography.com and on his Flickr, Twitter and Vimeo accounts!