Moshik Nadav: Bringing Sexy Back to Type

“It was a boost of confidence and a morale booster for my team.” —Stephen Rollick, senior graphic designer at Gogo and former In-House Design Award-winner

Born and raised in Israel, Moshik Nadav has always had an affinity for letterforms and typography. He immersed himself in graphic design journals at a young age, admiring and studying the work of the masters. While still a student of graphic design, his type designs were gaining recognition by leading international design publications and major online typography and design blogs. By the time he graduated, he had already designed four typefaces.

Nadav established his design business, Moshik Nadav Typography, in 2009, serving a variety of international clients, and in 2013, he moved to New York City. His distinct style can be attributed to his love of fashion and his adoration of the female form. Just as a fashion designer must consider the drape of the fabric on a human figure, Nadav’s affinity for sleek lines and sexy curves are distinct characteristics of his typefaces, which include contrasting line strokes, and delicate, extended serifs that entwine and envelop each other. Every element in his unique letterforms is carefully considered as he bends and manipulates each shape and tendril, while respecting the rules of typography and readability. When an entire alphabet is finished, it’s like a new fashion line hitting the runway—each letter is unique on its own, but when seen as a family, it all works together and it’s undoubtedly Moshik Nadav.

Here, we talk to Nadav about his latest typeface, Lingerie.


Why did you decide to focus on the fashion world when designing your typefaces?

I see a direct connection between typeface design and fashion. I think when you design a new typeface you’re inventing a new style—exactly how a fashion designer would create his own collection, I do with fonts.


Did you study fashion to get a deeper understanding for the aesthetics you want for your typefaces? 

My perspective on fashion comes from the branding and editorial sides. My passion is to give fashion magazines and fashion brands the best tool to present their content and grab the attention of their customers in the most enticing way. Whether it’s a new a clothing collection or a special issue of VOGUE magazine, my goal is to design type for them that will blow their target audience away and make them look contemporary, but also timeless.

[Related: Theo Rosendorf, Type Fanatic: On the Importance of Typography in Design | 10 Indispensable Typography Terms, Illustrated | 3D Design Geekery: A Movable Book of Typography Design]

Outside of fashion, where do you draw inspiration for your letterforms?

I get my inspiration from anything. Literally, it can come from a sounds that I hear in the street, from a smell, from a memory I had in my childhood, my family. Anything that arouses my senses. I believe you just need to keep your eyes open to anything, even if it’s not related to your project. The inspiration will come.


Your typefaces have a lot of aesthetic characteristics with all the unique swashes and ligatures. How do you determine what will work? 

I’ve been working for years on each typeface I design. My goal is to re-invent the letterform. I don’t follow traditional forms. I never follow the rules. I’m an inventor. I want to do it differently, but still readable and functional. Paris Pro was my first typeface with many alternate glyphs, swashes, unique ligatures, and ready-made words. It took a long time to design, and it was hard to stop. It comes with more than 1,300 glyphs in each style, and each glyph has many variations. but when I started to design Lingerie Typeface it was just not enough for me. I wanted more.


Lingerie is your latest typeface. there are so many details for each letter. How long does it take you to do a complete alphabet like this? 

Oh Lingerie Typeface … This font took more than two and half years of my life. I found myself sketching each letter thousands of times, just to perfect every curve and make sure each point is on the perfect spot, that all the letters are speaking with each other, and create a cohesive, sexy look. Once this part was done, I started to play with the swashes. I never thought I would come up with more than 700,000 glyphs! My intention was to give the designer all the tools he needs to create the best design. It’s like putting a kid in a candy shop and letting  him own the shop! The possibilities are endless.


Do you have a favorite letter in the Lingerie alphabet? 

That’s hard to answer. I do have a few favorite glyphs, although I think all the letters are part of me. One of my favorite letters is the lowercase g. It’s like a shape that I invented, but people recognize it as a lowercase g. I was working on this letter for months. It’s even more beautiful if you’re adding the swashes on top of it. My second favorite letter is the lowercase q. I know, it looks more like a small uppercase q, but this is another thing that makes Lingerie Typeface unique. The design process of the lowercase q is fascinating. Since the beginning, I wanted to take this letter and do something cool with it, because I’m not a big fan of the traditional lowercase q. I came up with many alternate glyphs to really change it up.

The ampersand is my favorite character to design. With Lingerie Typeface I did the same as I did with Paris Typeface and Paris Pro Typeface—I invented a shape, and I called it an ampersand. They are recognized as ampersands even though they look nothing like the traditional form.


What, in particular, inspired the Lingerie typeface?

During the design process, I thought how Lingerie will look next to Victoria Secret models, for example, or how it would look on the cover of Vogue magazine. I wanted to give brands like Victoria’s Secret and fashion magazines a sexy typeface to complement their offerings. For Lingerie, I was inspired by fashion models like Elsa Hosk, Taylor Hill, Stella Maxwell, Martha Hunt, and Sara Sampaio. The feminine form is big inspiration in all my work.


With so many swashes and details, is it hard to stop drawing or do you know it when you see a finished letter? 

I have one indication to know when to stop drawing a letter form. When I’m jumping out of my chair. It’s true! I mean, it takes forever, until it’s actually happening, but when I jump out of my chair, I know it’s finished. This is my best indication. I’m not following any tradition or just designing just another font, I’m always inventing something new, and it’s not an easy mission. Every letter should function as an individual shape, but also work with the other letters. Matthew Carter said once, “A typeface is a beautiful collection of letters, not a collection of beautiful letters.” From my perspective, that’s just not true. I think that if you can’t make every letter beautiful and get people to fall in love with each and every letter you design, you just didn’t do your job. By the way, I think Matthew Carter is an amazing typographer, and I’m his No. 1 fan. I just don’t agree with his statement above.

Do people ever tattoo your letters onto their bodies?

Yes, several. I get messages and photos from people when they do it. It’s super crazy.

Learn more about typography and lettering in Brush Lettering I, an online workshop from HOW Design University.