Emil Bertell is a graphic designer, illustrator, and typographer who has been immersed in the visual arts since his youth. His arts-based high school curriculum was centered upon multimedia, and Emil essentially taught himself type design at an age when most of us were prioritizing video games, passing notes in class, and getting our driver’s licenses.
He created his very first font release at just 16 years old, having some of his work featured the font anthology, “FreeFonts!: Designer Fonts Online” just one short year later. If his free font, Lakmus, looks familiar to you, we’re pretty sure you have kids who loved The Disney Channel because it took center stage in the logo for their once-popular show, “Shake It Up.”
Emil’s personal foundry label, Fenotype, has seen a great deal of success since its inception. Strong, functional typography has been his primary career focus since 2012 and shows no signs of stopping. Put simply, Emil loves what he does, an enthusiasm that can be seen in every one of his type designs.
One of his latest releases is Karu, a joint venture with Erik Bertell. “We both listed plenty of features that we both felt were useful and needed in fonts that are used in day-to-day work,” Emil explained. From an aesthetic standpoint, Karu would be big, bulky, and robust, including built-in small capitals, swash capitals, and multiple figure styles to give a little something extra.
“Also, we wanted a wide but not-too-vast range of weights with true italics – not the ubiquitous slanted ones that many sans families still feature,” Emil added. These details amount to an absolutely beautiful sans serif that carries itself with contemporary sophistication.
“As this is by far my first, pure corporate type family,” Emil told us, “it was surprisingly difficult to showcase Karu in a way that was both appealing as well as clear and effective from the technical viewpoint.” He found it quite the task to build a font that retained Emil’s classic “Fenotype touch,” yet still takes a substantial step forward from his existing catalogue of work.
He found particular enjoyment through his partnership with Erik, finding that their differing viewpoints and insights made it an effective way to work. “While published under my name, Karu is actually a group effort.” Emil said. “As some might already know, a couple of years ago I founded a new company, called Turku Type Industries. It’s a collaboration with Erik and we also use extra hands for the design work.”
Karu is a workhorse family of 14 fonts, featuring seven weights that range from ExtraLight to Black with corresponding true italics for each. Its geometric structure offers a comfortable reading experience at any text size, making it vastly appropriate for branding and identity projects that require design cohesion through many visual channels. Its lighter weights are a beautiful choice for digital publishing, web content, corporate communications, business cards, and labels. Karu’s heavier weights are well suited to bold displays and signage, headlines, and posters. Different combinations of Karu’s weights will result in captivating logos, product packaging, and advertising content.
Karu is loaded with additional features that include capitals to small caps, case sensitive forms, discretionary ligatures, oldstyle figures, small caps, and stylistic alternates. A series of swash capitals gives this type design a boost of elegance and visual flair, making it an incredibly versatile choice. Multilingual support extends to Basic Latin, Western European, Euro, Baltic, Turkish, Central European, Romanian, and Pan African Latin for exceptional global accessibility.
Emil currently offers 27 products in his portfolio on YouWorkForThem, with some exciting things on the way. “There’s another extensive sans family currently in the making, hopefully to be finished during the summer,” Emil told us. “This is an exploration in classic, rational type styles of the early 20s, of course with modern features and finishing. The yet-unnamed release is also a product of a process similar to that of Karu’s, with plenty of conceptual background research and collaboration.”
We’re looking forward to seeing this new work, and we’re also looking forward to learning more about Emil’s new company, Turku Type Industries, which he said we can expect later this year.