Profile: Fenotype

Finnish foundry Fenotype's visually impactful fonts have attracted recognition on an international platform. With seven years of font design and distribution under his belt, Emil Bertell is still just 23 and studying for an Art and Design degree in Helsinki. At the tender age of 16, he set up a freeware font website with his brother Erik, featuring fonts the two siblings had designed themselves. His passion for graphic design even led him to spend some of his compulsory military service as a junior designer on the army magazine.

At 18, Bertell decided to find a new platform. "I founded Fenotype because I needed a playground," he remembers. "I was playing a lot with graphic design and typefaces and I needed a reason to do it. I also wanted to be part of the design world, which all happened really quickly." Originally, the site featured a variety of multimedia projects as well as typefaces but this didn't last long. "After a short while it became clear from the feedback that the fonts were what it was about," he says. "In 2004 I started selling some of the families, and in spring 2005 I redesigned the site to its current look: a professional showcase as well as a font business." The site still hosts a portfolio featuring Bertell's graphic design work, posters, flyers, and so on, but Fenotype's 68 fonts are still the main draw. "It still strikes me sometimes that people actually buy them," he admits, "I was really quite sceptical when I started selling them!" His brother Erik has since moved on to become Art Director at Finnish culture magazine Kulttuurivihkot, but five of his fonts still feature highly as offerings on the Fenotype site and they continue to liaise on their latest design projects.

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