Sebastian Lester’s career has been a study in extremes. Born in London in 1972, Lester took a foundation course at Bournville College in Birmingham. He had always envisioned a career in design, but it was during this time that his focus shifted to type and lettering.
He applied to Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. The school’s prospectus was full of student typefaces, which appealed to Lester’s desire to concentrate on type design. He graduated with honors in 1997 and landed a remarkable, post-graduation, “first gig” – being part of the design team that produced a tour book for the Rolling Stones.
Lester continued designing for the music and gaming industries and also dabbled in motion graphics. He studied at the London School of Animation and developed 3D animated typography for a Genesis world tour and Konami, a digital entertainment company. He also released several typefaces through GarageFonts and T-26. “I submitted some of my work when I was at Central St. Martin’s, and they liked it. I guess most of the work I did at that point reflects the era quite strongly in that it’s quite experimental and irreverent,” says Lester.
His first designs were a means of personal expression. The usefulness of a typeface was not his first concern. That changed in 2000 when Lester was offered a job at the Monotype drawing office in the UK. “I didn’t realize you could work full-time as a type designer when I applied for the job,” he says. “I was worried I might be going out on a limb.”
He communicates with clients as much as possible to ensure he’s on the right track. “It’s important to speak to clients and get a real sense of their ideas and expectations,” he says. “Sometimes the client already has a logo or solid concept and simply wants it fleshed out into a full typeface. Or the client might have an open mind about a solution and want a typeface that has a particular personality.”
Although he started at the creative end of the spectrum, Lester has come to appreciate the technical side of type.
“Type design can be a strongly creative area to work in but it has a pronounced technical side that can involve many hours of testing and debugging,” Lester says. “Extreme type design sounds like an oxymoron, but it requires an extreme amount of time, effort, and patience to develop a large typeface family, which might cover all European languages including Greek and Cyrillic.”
In 2002, Lester released the Scene™ design, his first commercial typeface for the Monotype® Classics library. Lester’s newest design, the Soho™ type family, is a large slab serif, OpenType family with multiple weights and widths.
Here some example of his artwork