Back Story: Back in 2016, Parisian creative studio Violaine et Jérémy, or V&J, worked on the art direction and signage for an exhibition of 18 contemporary artists working with craft, called L’Empreinte du Geste (“The imprint of the gesture”) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The team created a custom typeface to use for posters, brochures, signage, and other materials it designed for the show—which would later become the full typeface, Jäger.
In-keeping with the exhibition themes, the type was “designed as a tribute to fine craftsmanship,” says V&J, and was “directly inspired by techniques mastered by craftsmen in their work.” As such, the letterforms are reminiscent of those created by engraving techniques or with chisels.
“We wanted to continue working on this particular font because we felt it had strong potential,” says V&J. The duo was also keen to explore how the font would work in another weight, and after the exhibition branding was released, they’d received a number of requests from people on social media who were keen to see the font released. Initially, Jäger was created only in uppercase, but now it’s available not only in both upper and lower case, but in bold as well as regular weights. Its also now commercially released for anyone to buy.
The studio says that many of the fonts it creates arise from similar beginnings—as part of identity projects, either not presented to, or rejected by, clients. Since V&J pretty much always creates bespoke typefaces for identity work, it makes sense that some of them should later see the light of day as commercial fonts released by the studio’s type foundry, VJ Type.
Why’s it called Jäger? The word Jäger means hunter in German, and was chosen because V&J founders Jérémy Schneider and Violaine Orsoni are fans of the 17th century Flemish paintings that often feature hunting dogs. The designers frequently visit Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum to see the still life works of Adriaen Cornelisz Beeldemaker, Jan Weenix, or Pieter Claesz, for example. These proved to be a key part of the “classical artistic universe” that the designers used in presenting the font to contrast its unusual forms. Aside from this reference point, the pair says they also simply “liked the sound” of Jäger, as well as the “visual harmony of the letters’ sequence.”
What are its distinguishing characteristics? “In drawing Jäger, we wanted to give a hand-made artisanal feel while avoiding a retro look,” says V&J. According to the designers, the influence of master craftsman techniques is evident in Jäger’s hollowed-out counter forms, which call to mind the lettering created by people working with chisels, like sculptors or engravers—namely 18th-century German-Dutch typographer and punchcutter Johann Michaël Fleischmann. Jäger’s E, L, and F in particular pay homage to his work and offer a contemporary reinterpretation of it.
Jäger has a high x-height, with short ascenders to make the lower case letters feel especially strong. The lowercase e, for instance, has a notably small eye to give a more elegant appearance, and throughout the typeface dots are replaced with rounded diamonds.
“The angles give the impression of having been cut in wood, the contours are rounded, never sharp,” says V&J. Each weight is available in two versions: the original design, Jäger Master, which the designers describe as the “most advanced, most daring design,” and Jäger Classic, in which the counter forms at the tops of the letters have been filled in “to offer a smoother and more versatile option.” Each weight has an alternate R and ampersand. The designers describe Jäger’s serifs as “offbeat, outlandish,” since the counterforms cut into the middle sections of the serifs’ rounded contours. “The shapes of the serifs are very expressive, you can’t miss them,” say the designers.
What should I use it for? Jäger is primarily a display typeface, and would great for headlines, as well as applications like posters or title credits. Its striking appearance means it could also be a great choice for logotypes, perhaps for cultural or art-based clients. Jäger would even work well for shorter texts, and medium length texts, too, in the right setting. “I would use it when a daring design typeface is needed to balance a minimalist atmosphere,” says Orsoni. “The elegance and modernity of the overall look could match really well with a bold luxury brand.”
What other typefaces do you like to pair it with? To contrast its unusually decorative serifs, Jäger would best be paired with a sans serif. V&J suggests another of its fonts, Kobe, as well as Raisonné from Colophon Foundry or Monotype font Fugue Mono by Radim Peško.