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MonoLisa - Font follows function - Interview with Marcus Sterz


As a developer, font is something you end up using every day at your work. One year ago I teamed up with Andrey Okonetchikov and Marcus Sterz, to create a new typeface for programming.

In this interview, you’ll learn more about MonoLisa from Marcus’ perspective.

Can you tell a bit about yourself?

Marcus Sterz

I am a type designer from Vienna, Austria. Coming from a background as a graphic designer, I started developing typefaces in 2008. My Foundry name is FaceType; we create retail and custom typefaces.

How would you describe MonoLisa to someone who has never heard of it?

Developers need well crafted monospaced fonts to read and write code. MonoLisa lets you do that as easy and fast as possible. It did not derive from the premise what it should look like design-wise but rather what the purpose is: font follows function.

What makes MonoLisa special?

The main goal was to create a typeface that’s easy and fast to read, which prevents you from mixing up letters (which leads to errors). A second focus was on keeping the limited space as well balanced as possible – in monospaced typefaces, each letter or symbol is given the same amount of space, which makes it hard to keep the proportions eye-pleasing.

Ideally, a font does not get noticed when you read the text; it just there to transfer information because it’s about content, not letter shapes.

How does MonoLisa differ from other fonts?

I’m afraid the question is not specific enough. MonoLisa differs from most typefaces because most of them are proportional. MonoLisa differs from most monospaced typefaces because most of them are not well designed.

Why did you develop MonoLisa?

The idea to create MonoLisa came after an exciting conversation with Juho Vepsäläinen und Andrey Okonetchnikov about fonts for developers. Although developers look at type all day, most of them seem to use suboptimal fonts for their work. I wanted to give them an excellent option for everyday use.

What next?


The main work is done, but I intend to expand the languages covered to Cyrillic and Greek. Also, many more code related symbols will get implemented. Last month I did not observe any new specific trends.

What advice would you give to people getting into font design? What should they learn?

Just start, don’t expect yourself to come up with a masterpiece. Make mistakes, learn from them, make better mistakes.

Who should I interview next?

Try Matthew Carter, a type designer.


I hope you’ll enjoy using MonoLisa. I’ve been using it roughly for a year and there’s no going back. :)