After completing his studies at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Akira Kobayashi began his career as a type designer at Sha-Ken Co., Ltd. in 1983. He worked for six years at Sha-Ken and then went to London in 1989 to study calligraphy and typography. On his return to Japan in 1990, he entered Jiyu-Kobo, Ltd. and engaged in designing and digitizing the Japanese fonts Hiragino Mincho and Hiragino Gothic until 1993. From 1993 to 1997 he worked for TypeBank Co., Ltd., where he designed Latin typefaces to accompany the foundry’s digital Japanese fonts. From 1997 to 2001 he worked as a freelance designer and won numerous international awards for his typefaces.
After completing the design of the Latin alphabet to accompany Type Project’s Axis Japanese fonts in 2000, he moved to Germany in 2001 to assume his present position at Linotype GmbH (currently Monotype GmbH). As type director he controls the aesthetic quality of in-house typefaces, creates digital versions of classic type families, and develops corporate fonts, while designing his own typefaces. He has also collaborated with the two world-renowned designers of Adrian Frutiger and Hermann Zapf to modernize their earlier type designs.
He is a frequent speaker at type conferences and workshops in Europe, Americas and Asia, and has served as a judge in prestigious international type design competitions.
- U&lc Type Design Competition, Best of Category and Best of Show: Clifford (1998)
- Linotype Library’s 3rd International Digital Type Design Contest, 1st Prize in the Text Category: Conrad (2000)
- Type Directors Club Type Design Competitions: ITC Woodland (1998), ITC
- Japanese Garden and ITC Silvermoon (1999), FF Clifford (2000), Linotype
- Conrad (2001), and Palatino Sans (with Hermann Zapf, 2007)