Evert Bloemsma

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Evert Bloemsma (1958–2005) was a Dutch type designer and graphic designer. In 1981 he graduated from the Hoogeschool voor de Kunsten (currently called ArtEZ) in Arnhem. He taught typography at the Breda academy AKV St. Joost and at ArtEZ.


During his time in Arnhem, Bloemsma became fascinated by 'Swiss typography' (which is also referred to as the International Typographic Style internationally and 'functionalist' in The Netherlands).

First typeface[edit]

Because of this interest, it was no surprise that his first typeface was a sans serif. According to him, there was no place for serifs in the era of new technologies. However, his interest did not go to the typefaces that were characteristic of the International Typographic Style, Univers and Helvetica. Instead, he admired more non-conformist work of designers like Roger Excoffon, whose Antique Olive especially caught his eye. This typeface has two unusual features that Bloemsma also incorporated into his own typeface called Balance: it is heavy at the top – sturdier at the top than at the base – and it has an 'inverted stress', the horizontal strokes are heavier than the vertical strokes. This 'inverted stress' has the function of leading the eye along the lines of text, in a similar way as serifs do in serif typefaces. Bloemsma tried to sell the first version of Balance to several different type foundries, like Berthold, Linotype and Monotype.

In 1986 he digitized the typeface with Ikarus M, a software system developed by his then employer URW in Hamburg. In 1992, the PostScript version of the typeface was finished and published as part of the FontFont library (FSI FontShop International) as FF Balance.

Second typeface[edit]

For his second typeface, FF Cocon, he set out to eliminate every trace of handwriting, as he saw that even Helvetica and Univers contain traces of writing in their stems and terminals. Bloemsma soon realised that removing these elements was more complicated than he expected, as the results often looked unconvincing and unnatural.

Finally, he allowed a calligraphic element into the typeface; he gave the terminals of the stems and extenders an asymmetric rounding. He thought that this treatment also had a practical function, similar to that of FF Balance's top-heavy letterforms; leading the eye forward along the line of text.

Third typeface[edit]

His third typeface, FF Avance, was quite a step for Bloemsma, as it was a serif typeface. He realised that serifs could help a typeface read more easily and thus enhance functionality. In this way, FF Avance was another effort into creating a typeface that leads the eye in a forward direction, this time realised by sturdy serifs that point to the left at the top, and to the right at the base of the characters.

Fourth typeface[edit]

His last typeface, FF Legato, is an examination of the traditional notion of diagonal contrast or stress, in this case removing the connection of writing with a broad-nib pen. In effect, Bloemsma made the shapes of the counters almost contradict the outside curves, resulting in more interesting and lively letterforms.

Typeface commonality[edit]

Balance and Legato consist both from curved forms – none of the lines are straight – which can be seen as a tribute to his teacher Jan Vermeulen, whose adage ‘a straight line is a dead line’ was a guideline for Bloemsma throughout his type design career.


  • Jan Middendorp, Dutch Type, 010 Publishers, Rotterdam (2004)