Born in Westerham, Kent, England, in 1947, Robin Nicholas has worked with fonts and typefaces nearly all his adult life. Following a brief stint as an apprenticeship draftsman, he joined the Monotype Type Drawing Office while still a teenager. After his initial training at Monotype, Nicholas redrew master artwork for typefaces licensed for the company’s phototypesetting systems. He spent another two years training in punch cutting and the preparation of metal fonts for design proofing. Over time, Nicholas became manager of the Type Drawing Office and today he currently serves as the head of typography at Monotype Imaging in the UK.
In his storied career, Nicholas designed important commercial designs such as the Nimrod®, Arial®, Felbridge™ and Ysobel™ typeface families. Design directed projects that yielded typefaces such as the Clarion® and Columbus® type designs and supervised the digital revival of important Monotype Imaging typefaces like the Bell®, Centaur®, Dante®, Janson®, Fournier™, Van Dijck®, Walbaum™, Bulmer®, and Pastonchi™ families. Nicholas also works on projects through Monotype Imaging’s custom fonts program, designing many new faces for corporate branding.
When asked about what inspires him to create new typefaces, Nicholas replied, “my goal is to overcome communications problems and technology restrictions. With Felbridge, for instance, I wanted to make a sans serif design that would work well on screen and would avoid some of the character recognition problems that affect so many sans typefaces. In designing Ysobel, I wanted to design a serif typeface with a large ‘x’ height that would work well as a text face for publications – but which would also have elegance and a clean, incised demeanor.”
Nicholas continues to offer solutions to typographical problems and is happy to share his knowledge acquired over four decades in the type world. He speaks at conferences on the creative, technological, and business aspects of type, and lectures to students on type design and font production.