December 2010 proves to be a sad month for the type world. After a long period of illness the Austrian graphic designer Othmar Motter died on Friday December 17 at the age of 84 in Hard near Bregenz. In Austria Motter belonged to the pioneers of graphic design after the Second World War. Not only did he create numerous popular brand logos, amongst others for the Austrian Lotto and Toto, but he also designed popular typefaces, like for example Motter Tektura, used for the original Apple logo and the corporate face for Reebok.
The original Apple Computer Inc. logo, set in Motter Tektura.
Born in Austria in 1927, Othmar Motter graduated with honours from Höhere Graphische Bundes Lehr-und Versuchsanstalt, the graphic arts academy in Vienna in 1950. In 1952 Othmar Motter, together with Hans Kaiser and Sylvester Licka, founded the design agency Vorarlberger Graphik in the town of Hard am Bodensee (Lake Constance). His work there was varied but his speciality was poster design and for it he won a number of awards. In the late 60s he turned his attention to logos, corporate design and type design.
Specimen for Motter Ombra in the 1980 Spanish Letraset catalogue. Image by Ignacio Martinez
Motter was the first Austrian designer who managed to establish his type designs on the international scene. In the early 70s four of his headline faces were produced by Berthold and Letraset – the striking ornate display sans Motter Ombra; the aforementioned Motter Tektura, a constructed sans; the striking geometric all lowercase face; and the curvaceous bold display script Motter Femina. In the following years the all-round graphic designer interrupted his type design activities, profiling himself through international assignments as a logo designer, winning several competitions.
Othmar Motter only returned to type design after almost thirty years. In the 1990s his typefaces ITC Motter Sparta, ITC Motter Corpus, and FF Motter Festival were released by the International Typeface Corporation, Monotype, and FontFont. For the past decade he had been an active type designer, and in 1995 he was made an honorary member of designaustria. Today his grandchildren Peter and Siegmund manage the agency Motter Design – Formation für Visuelle Kommunikation, and have initiated the website Motter Fonts showcasing Othmar Motter's type designs. We can only hope many more will be commercialised and made available for a wider audience.