Kiperman: a typographic tribute

You probably already know the most common reason to develop a custom typeface is when no typeface in the retail market meets a brand’s communication needs. Or maybe the brand needs exclusivity, a font family that no one else can use. Alternatively, it may be that the company is very large – with thousands of employees – and buying a license for all these people would be very expensive. Or the company uses very specific software or processes and not every font works correctly under these conditions.

Any of these arguments alone would justify developing a custom typeface. But what is not always remembered is that the custom route is also a great opportunity to pay tribute to someone.

About Henrique Leão Kiperman

Henrique Leão Kiperman (1938–2017) and the Kiperman typeface in his honor.

Grupo A approached me in 2017 with the idea of developing a type family in honor of Henrique Leão Kiperman, founder of the company that had passed away in June of that year.

Mr. Henrique began his career in 1958 selling medical books in travels through the interior of the Brazilian states of Paraná and Santa Catarina. In 1973 he opened a bookstore in downtown Porto Alegre, the Artes Médicas Sul, and a few years later edited his first book. Since then, his company has grown to become one of the most important publishers in Brazil in the area of scientific, technical and professional books. It currently has more than 2400 active titles distributed among the McGraw Hill, Bookman, Artmed, Penso and Artes Médicas imprints. If you study or work in Design in Brazil you have probably read one or more books published by Bookman, Grupo A’s business-oriented imprint.

A rational and direct person, Mr. Henrique was not one of many words but showed confidence whenever he spoke. On the other hand, he liked to listen a lot and was known to have a diplomatic and deliberate posture. Above all, Mr. Henrique didn’t like to be in the spotlight and followed the principle of doing good for its own sake.

It was also known that Mr. Henrique had a great appreciation for the design of the books he edited. Whenever a book came from the press, he had the habit of inspecting everything, from its cover to the paragraph indents, always striving for perfection. With so many years of the utmost dedication, Grupo A felt Henrique Leão Kiperman deserved to have a typeface in his honor and named after him.

Developing a custom typeface

Proofs for some of the designs we generated mixed with other fonts for comparison (above) and the 4 options that were presented to the client.

The project started with very clear guidelines. The goal was to design a serif typeface suitable for typesetting books. Drawing on the personality of Mr. Henrique, the fonts needed to be highly legible and should not call attention to themselves. Saving space was desirable as well.

Me and Ana Laydner worked on this typeface for over a year. Our first step was to generate as many designs as we could. We then evaluated each of one of them and chose our best four for presentation. The client chose the one we felt to be the most solid and rational (in large part due to the shape of its serifs).

After the client’s decision, we took a few steps back and entered the refinement stage. An important phase, we took our time to review and perfect each line and curve. We then filled in the character set and developed the bold and italics with help from Luisa Leitenperger. The result is a 4-style type family of solid, direct and rational appearance. Some of Kiperman’s key characteristics are the presence of inktraps, slightly narrower than normal width and the calligraphic structure of the italics providing the right amount of emphasis when necessary.

Kiperman design features and the 4 styles that make up the family.

Kiperman takes the world

From today, the Kiperman fonts will be used to typeset books on Mental Health, an editorial line of the Artmed imprint that is of great importance to Grupo A. But the first use ever of the fonts could not be a different one: the biography of Mr. Henrique. Written by Eugênio Esber, the book Todas as páginas de Henrique Leão Kiperman was distributed as a gift to all employees of Grupo A as a way to keep his heritage alive.

Cover of the biography of Mr. Henrique. The design of the book is by Paola Manica and the cover illustration is by Leslie Nichols Art.
Kiperman in use on the biography of Mr. Henrique.

We felt immense joy and pride upon completing this project. Joy for the opportunity to design a quality typeface with the noble purpose of honoring Mr. Henrqiue, a person of integrity and loved by many people. And pride to know the fonts will be used to typeset books that are essential in training health professionals in Brazil.

Since our very first meeting, Grupo A made it clear they did not want exclusivity rights for their custom typeface. In doing so, they signaled their wish to see more people using the Kiperman typeface, spreading a little of Mr. Henrique’s spirit around the world. For the same reason we decided to make its price very affordable: starting from US$80 for the complete family. And taking Grupo A’s gesture as inspiration, we intend to keep expanding Kiperman’s character set as we see the demand. Future updates will be free of charge for all those who have purchased a license for the fonts.

Buy Kiperman

Kiperman is available for licensing! Purchase a license at authorised resellers or directly from me.

Finally, we’ve developed a printed specimen of the Kiperman type family that tells the motivation of the project, its features and includes samples of the fonts in use. If you would like to receive a copy of the specimen for free just send me an email.


The Kiperman typeface was developed by me, Henrique Beier, and Ana Laydner with assistance from Luisa Leitenperger

Project approval at Grupo A was by Arysinha Affonso, Cláudia Bittencourt, Letícia Bispo de Lima, Lydia Coelho and Adriane Kiperman with consulting from Paola Manica.