After university, Erik Spiekermann worked as a freelance graphic designer in London from 1972 to 1979. In 1979 he returned to Germany where he founded the company MetaDesign, of which he was part until 2001.
During his time with MetaDesign he worked with the Berlin Transit System, which led to work for Volkswagon, Audi, Dusseldorf Airport Authority, Springer Verlag (a publishing house) and German Bundepost (German Postal Service).
Commissioned for German Bundepost in 1985, Spiekermann created the Meta typeface (FF Meta), which is considered a pre-eminent typeface of today. Spiekermann designed this humanist sans-serif typeface as the “antithesis” of Helvetica, which he considers “bland and boring”, even though it (Meta) has been labelled the “Helvetica of the ‘90’s”. Meta type was commissioned to be legible, recognisable and look good in small print on poor paper stock.
Meta was never adopted by German Bundepost, which preferred to remain using Helvetica. In 1991 Spiekermann released Meta through MetaDesign. Since then, Meta has been adopted by many companies, most notably The Weather Channel.
In 1989 Spiekermann and his then wife Joan set up Fontshop. The first mail order digital font distribution company in the world, sending floppy discs with fonts to customers. FSI Fontshop followed and has become one of the largest publishers of digital typeface in the world.
Fontshop has offshoots in –
- FontFont: a digital library of fonts created by Fontshop
- FontBook: an independent compendium of digital typefaces.
- fStop: a digital image library, currently offering over 22,000 royalty free images.
In addition to his work as a graphic designer and creator of fonts, Erik Spiekermann is also an influential author, theorist and lecturer.