Published . Words by Petrus Palmér. Photography by Erik Wåhlström.

Göran Söderström is the founder of Letters from Sweden; a design studio designing retail and custom typefaces for local and international clients such as Ableton, VSCO, Sweco and Tictail.

Why do you do what you do?
My path to become a full-time self-employed type designer have been long and uncertain with lots of obstacles, but I think I do this because I’m meant to. Ever since I was a kid, letters have been a big part of my life and I truly love working with them. Shaping letters in new, different ways, see how they play together with other letters to create communication is truly fascinating. I also do this because I never stopped believing I could make a living out of drawing letters, even though everyone I met tried to convince me it was impossible.

What does your average workday look like?
Our studio is located in the area where I also live, so I take the 5-minutes bike ride to the studio and once there I turn up the music and work very focused. I also have client meetings now and then, which most of the time takes place at their office, so I usually take the 15-minutes bike ride to visit them downtown. For international clients I use Skype or phone. Sometimes I sit at other places to work, like a hotel lobby, museum or a café. Working on trains is really nice too, so I usually prefer the train when visiting clients outside Stockholm or in Scandinavia.

What has changed?
The last 10 years have brought a lot of change. Most importantly, the tools have changed dramatically. Today it’s much faster to develop a typeface, given you learn to handle the new tools available. This has lead to an explosion on the retail market. New typefaces are released every day even though the majority of them may not be very good. Still, quite many people are actually making a living from creating fonts, at least internationally. Sweden is still in its very young days, but I’m here to change that. I often try to encourage honest young designers to give it try.

What is easier now then before?
The technical side of developing typefaces and promoting them to the world have become easier. Both large companies and individual designers have the same opportunities to reach out with their products thanks to social media. Chances that the right audience find your work are high, since information travels so fast around the globe.

What is harder now then before?
It’s harder to stand out with your work because there are already so many great new typefaces available from all over the world. This is also inspiring, of course.

What would you say to someone thinking about a career doing what you do?
Always draw from scratch and try to be as authentic and honest as you can – never modify existing typefaces! I can’t stress this enough. I also think it’s important to release stuff. Publish your typefaces and then jump on to the next one. I think far too many people have unfinished work in their drawers. Just like music, there will never be enough of new typefaces.


Special thanks to BOLON for sponsoring our Ambassadors project.

During 2016, we are profiling 12 practitioners from different design disciplines to give face to Design Sweden, one for each month of the year. We aim to show how the design profession can look like in 2016 and to promote the exchange between disciplinary boundaries. The project is photographed by Erik Wåhlström.