Article: Multiple Baselines Edo Smitshuijzen

Every day I make pencil sketches to find new letter shapes.

Interview with Damoon Khanjanzadeh, type and graphic designer.

Part of the Multiple Baselines series

Damoon Khanjanzadeh is an Iranian type and graphic designer, calligrapher and visual artist. He has taught typography and typeface design at the Sooreh Art University of Tehran and the Vijeh School of communication arts.

Damoon appears to be a dedicated child of the social media era. He is a frequent user of most of them and he understands that an entertaining story about daily events seems to be more important to hold the attention than an accessible overview of your work. He uses the social media as if he’s a pop star. Damoon seems to be a trail blazer for type design in Iran, hopefully he will not be a trendsetter of how to best present the results of your work. Although Damoon claims to be first of all a type designer, It is impossible to find anywhere a comprehensible overview of the fonts he has produced over time. Instead he loves to show font animations and bits and pieces of his font designs he likes most. He says that letter parts explain his designs better than a font specimen. This trend is regrettably not entirely new. Most type designers try to sell their fonts today by designing breathtaking applications of their designs, counting that a beautiful picture will sell better than solid information about potential use. The website ‘Fonts in use’ is invented to fill the gap type designers created themselves. Damoon takes this trend to a bizarre extreme. It all looks nice on his Instagram account, but is it also relevant information?

It becomes difficult for an interviewer to verify the claims of the interviewee, in all cases where proof of claims after repeated requests are not provided. Damoon did not send me samples of his monumental works and his claim that all his font designs can be used for texts as well as display is difficult to assert with the lack of concrete examples.



Damoon Poster - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Diba typeface named after his newborn daughter, self initiated sales pursuits to support cancer-stricken children. - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Logo VIJE School 2009 - Damoon Khanjanzadeh


Damoon Khanjanzadeh

“My background in type design originates from my learning calligraphy in childhood and at later ages. I studied graphic design at the Fine Arts University of Tehran and learned the basic skills from great masters like [graphic designer] Morteza Momayez (1935–2005) and [calligraphy artist] Mohammed Ehsaei (b. 1939). After finishing university, I began designing type on my own. I took a very long road, with a lot of trial and error. Nevertheless, I taught myself enough to be able to teach type design now to my students. So my type design skills are for the most part self-taught.

Mohammad Ehsaei, my teacher at university, was a kind of role model for me. I learned a lot from him on how to create well shaped letterforms. He is not a type designer but an artist who creates calligraphic paintings. I was fascinated and inspired by the shapes he creates in his work”.


Logo Hima Stone Gallery - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Logo ALA Interior designer - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Logo Car Company 2018 - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Logo for his own Studio 1999 - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Working situation

“My working situation now is different than it was in previous years. Today, I have clients that ask me for quite varied types of commissions. My clients include publishers, educational institutions, banks, fashion houses, architectural offices, museums and more. I do type design as a major activity, but I also do graphic design and work as a visual artist creating monumental works.

My style has not changed much over the years. It has always been a playful way of creating. For instance, you cannot separate my fonts into the classical divisions of text and display fonts. My fonts can be used for both purposes, text as well as display. I do not limit myself to a specific aspect of type design. I have designed all sorts of type, including geometrical, official, unofficial, and display. I attempt to be playful also in my type design work; I am always experimenting with form and looking for new letter shapes. I achieve new forms through deformation and exaggeration. My fonts all have a strong and unique character of their own that start from new shapes of individual letters”.


Post Typeface - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Details TMOCA Typeface for Theran Museum of Modern Art - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Sources of inspiration

‘My sources of inspiration are every day documents people create, such as hand lettering on walls I find on the street, shop signs in the urban environment (I specially like the old ones). I get inspiration from pictures taken from urban life, mostly scripts posted or drawn by people who are not professional type designers. I find inspiration in nature and everything else that can excite me to think of new letter shapes. I do research on people’s handwriting. I also get inspiration from my own six years old daughter’s handwriting. Today there is so much imagery on the internet, so I’m also interested in studying samples of old calligraphy I find there. Traditional calligraphy does not dictate my type design process”.

One of Damoon's daily sketches, he loves to show - Damoon Khanjanzadeh

Working method

“On a daily basis, I make sketches of letterforms or combination of letters. I keep those sketches, to look at them later. My sketches are for the most part not related to a commission. They are just my daily research to find new and unexpected letter shapes or combinations of shapes. Sooner or later these sketches will be used in one or more of my projects.

I do not follow a specific standard working procedure for my designs. My procedure depends on both my mood and on the kind of commission. I do things differently for different type of work. My typeface designs are all based on the sketches I make on paper and I do not bring software features into the creative process. I do the whole designing part all by myself, but I do not create the final font file on my own. For the more technical parts, like kerning and spacing, I get help from a developer assistant who works under my supervision. When developing a font, I usually start with more general components such as the connections between letters. For the production of a multi-script font, I prefer to collaborate with other type designers because latin type for instance, has its own culture and traditions which I am less versed in”.

My software tools

“I use only the Glyphs software beacuse I am most comfortable with it. For me, the whole package of Glyphs’ features are all interesting, but my favorite is its smart path-drawing tool. In the beginning I got help using the software but eventually I could manage everything on my own. I trust my own eye and feelings more than the numbers on the screen.

I only make font families of multiple-masters if the commission requires it. Some of my ideas require single fonts and not a family for instance like my Diba and Meshki fonts. I have designed both single fonts and font families.

Despite the technical advances in font edititing software, I fear that the output of Persian and Arabic type design so far has not resulted on average in more professional designs. I sometimes have the feeling that the more technology advances the more likely it will lead to weaker instead of better type design”.

Damoon's favorites - Damoon Khanjanzadeh


How to become a great type designer

“In my opinion the most important for becoming a great type designer is developing the skill of making new letter shapes that also take into account the traditional calligraphic rules. A type designer must have the capacity to think of new forms, understand calligraphy and its history, be mindful of readability, and master the geometry that can be applied to the proportions and shapes of letters”.