Luc(as) de Groot

Luc(as) de Groot (1963, The Netherlands) studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague under Gerrit Noordzij. He then spent four years with the Dutch agency BRS Premsela designing corporate identities. This was also a time in which he taught at the Art Academy in Den Bosch and carried freelance work out, too. In 1993, he moved to Berlin to join the staff at MetaDesign. As a typographic director there, he worked on a diverse range of corporate design projects, from logos to magazine concepts and custom typefaces, in addition to fine-tuning and implementing type generally.

To try to compensate for all that hard work, Luc(as) began to create several quickly-programmed novelty typefaces. Back then, he thought that he would immediately die if he was not creative every day. He still believes that, and his experiments help keep him alive, just as illustration and gardening do.

At the beginning of 1997 Luc(as) accepted a half-time teaching position in Potsdam, a city just outside of Berlin that had been part of the former East Germany until 1990. The Fachhochschule Potsdam was founded shortly after the German reunification and is one of a small handful of schools in Germany to employ a professor of type development. Luc(as) used this opportunity to leave MetaDesign, setting up FontFabrik with his fellow Dutchman Wim Westerveld, who today is the professor for typography at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee. Although FontFabrik underwent many changes since 1997, it initially offered services to design and advertising agencies, including typeface and logo development, as well as digital implementation. The goal of FontFabrik was always to enrich the typographic climate.

It may be difficult to imagine today, but the typographic climate had major issues back in the 1990s. Many of the digital typefaces available then were nothing more than weak derivations of designs that had been beautiful in hot-metal and photographic typesetting. They were poorly digitized by technicians without feeling for type, with only financial interests in mind. Luc(as) likes to say that he would rather read a page in a deliberately bad face than one set in a poorly digitized Bembo, Helvetica, Times or even Frutiger. It was sad to see digital type morph so far away from what the original designs like.

The type hype that began to take hold in around the time Luc(as) moved to Berlin has grown ever since. The most recent revolution happened around 2010 when more and more websites began to be built with diverse palettes of webfonts. Many of the typefaces Luc(as) published since 1994 have also proved successful in that medium. The introduction of webfonts exposed even more professional grounds to the importance type has, and this represents an important part of Luc(as)’s business.

By the time that Luc(as) established the LucasFonts foundry in 1999, he was already well-known as the curve doctor – a man with what Erik Spiekermann used to call “typomania,” or a severe addiction to type. Luc(as) is a manic maker. One keyboard is not enough for him, just like one processor is not enough, one font family is not enough, and one brush is not enough. He is devoted to type, day and night. Drawing perfect curves and getting text-rendering to be pixel perfect has been the most important things in his life for decades.