Workshop 1
June 26—30, 2023

Sami Kortemäki


Register before June 1st

Signature as a starting point for creating a characteristic display typeface


Handwriting is a primal act; while writing we can’t hide our personality. In this workshop we use our intimate, personal letters as a starting point for type design: your own handwriting as well as your signature. The signature is everybody’s most personal writing, everybody’s most individual expression through letters, and the result is almost asemic as they often drift away from legible letterforms.

The intention is not to digitalize your handwriting or signature 1:1, but to analyse its qualities & details and transform those into distinctive design concepts, studying the balance between asemic and semic, primal and subsequent.

Motto: “Cherish your quirky details & design flaws – avoiding making mistakes in order to preserve your image makes you extremely boring”


he objective is to discuss, learn & try methods to achieve personal & distinctive touches to type design. Once you gain guts to touch the letters in your own style, your work will never be the same. As a side product you make your graphic design interesting for yourself.

Contents and Structure

Participants describe and discuss the characteristics of their own signatures, and take those descriptions to their design. First two days will be spend by sketching with pen and paper, with manual tools. Out of many sketched word shapes, each participant picks just one for further refinements. On the next two days we evolve our designs in a font editor and expand the character set to work properly as a display typeface. On the final day the participants apply & build a presentation of their typeface.


The days start with a short lecture on practical type design details & as well as with discussions, pointing out various methods of achieving personality in type design. Most of the day will be spend by sketching & drawing letters. And talking about details, in order to improve the designs. At the end of the workshop each participant goes home with a very own digital font – after presenting it for others, of course.

Sami Kortemäki


Sami Kortemäki is one of the founders of Underware. Left handed lettering artist, script face specialist and uncompromising craftsman. Strength: curves. Weakness: straight lines. Beard: long, red brown.

Underware is a rock-hard font foundry with a whole lot of feeling for real type. Stunning retail fonts, exclusive branding, custom type for demanding clients, own freaky design tools, you name it. Sweating & rocking in Den Haag, Helsinki and Amsterdam. Founded by Akiem Helmling, Sami Kortemäki and Bas Jacobs in 1999.

Keywords Primordial / Typedesign / Personality / Typography / Displayfont / Expression / Handwriting / Signature

Practical information

Who can apply

For graphic designers and type designers who want to expand their sandbox

Knowledge or experience required

For anyone who can read, write and type


Every participant needs a laptop with a font editor. If you don’t have a font editor, we can download a demo version during the workshop, Glyphs or RoboFont, for example.

The school will supply some materials such as paper, photocopier and b/w printer. Participants are free to bring their own materials.

Workshop price
650 €
20 % discount before April 30
Sami is fluent in English and Finnish
20 hours, 5 days
4 hours per day,
from 10 am to 2 pm
Special offer
Participants who wish to register for the MDV, MDE or MADD master programmes will have a discount equivalent to the workshop price.
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