BTW Type | A South African Type Foundry



BTW Type (Burger Tipografie Werke) is a type foundry founded by Ateljee‘s Jaco Burger in mid-December last year, born out of requests to license the fonts he has designed for projects over the years. The focus of the foundry is to design typefaces that are graphically rich, characterful and versatile enough to work well in identity, branding and publishing environments.


Jaco launched BTW Type with two typefaces. The first, BTW Appen, is a neo-grotesk typeface with higher-than-normal contrast. “I wanted to launch with a multi-purpose type family, where the different weights have different characteristics,” Jaco says. He did some research in old type specimen books and looked at some of the found type he’d been collecting, and one of the designs that caught his eye was an old Sparletta logo that had particularly high contrast for the time it came out. “I started drawing the regular with a grid as backbone, and increased the contrast on the light and decreased the contrast on the medium and bold weights. Within the weights, there are also different cuts on the left stems of characters and the “y” is a bit different from your standard typefaces, to keep the contrast consistent.”






The second typeface, BTW Nuller, is a playful display typeface that was made through subtraction. “So instead of drawing or building the letters,” Jaco explains, “I took a block of circles and took away the negative space around and inside the block to form letters. The design was also used to inform the creation of illustrations. The thick letters also works well as a canvas to add patterns and colour to. BTW Nuller comes in two flavours; One is square and Two is round with each also incorporating an outline style.”






It took Jaco roughly 600 hours spread over 7 months to develop BTW Appen, and he worked on BTW Nuller for about two months. Explaining the various steps the process could entail, Jaco says: “Process-wise, it all begins with a concept and research, which leads to drawing. Depending on the amount of languages and OpenType features you want to support, it can range from drawing 260 to well over 1000 glyphs for a single weight, like regular. During and after the drawing stage, metrics and kerning are set up, which in some instances can take as long as the drawing process. After the kerning is finished, OpenType features are written, desktop font files are generated and then testing begins. This involves testing the font files on various operating systems and applications. After testing and fine tuning the desktop font files, web fonts are generated and they are tested on various browsers.” It’s only after all of this that the font files are complete, and ready to be packaged with a technical pdf.


At the moment Jaco is working on developing three new typefaces to be released throughout the course of the year. BTW-Ateljee is a versatile geometric monospaced font family, inspired by the elementary letters drawn when first learning to write. As with typewriters, it gives the feeling that a document is “written” and not “designed.” BTW-Dismo is the proportionately spaced geometric half-brother of BTW-Ateljee. The typeface was designed for the exhibition, Dismotief, during the 2012 Aardklop Arts Festival. “I decided to use the era of the building where the exhibition took place as a starting point for the design, which was built in 1909, so it was right at the end of the Edwardian era,” he says. “Traces of this can be found in the high crossbars, exaggerated spurs and diagonally cut tails and terminals.” And lastly BTW-Opeca, a geometric sans serif design, is a modern take on Futura and Vogue and is inspired by a certain oil company’s corporate typeface from the early 60s.




All BTW Type fonts are available for download as a free trial (with a limited character set) to test out on designs. Once purchased, the license is an inclusive one, which grants a desktop, website and mobile app lisence all in one. To find out more visit


Find BTW Type on Facebook and Twitter for more.


Title image credits:

Photographer: Herman Jordaan

Model: Mari from Ice Model Management

Production: Lee Hagen

Hair and make-up: Dominique de Lange



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