An interview with Joao Oliveira

April 7, 2014 , In: Interviews
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Named by CreativeBloq as one of the Twenty Young Designers To Watch in 2013, our interview series continues with João Oliveira of OnRepeat Studio, designer of our the Port Vintage font. João is renowned for his creative use of neons and other bright, vivid colours to create designs which are visually very stimulating, and also for his typefaces, which we can’t get enough of.

We managed to get a few minutes of his time to answer some questions for us so without further ado, here’s our interview with João Oliveira:

You’ve done a great variety of typography, illustration, branding and packaging design, and more. What is your favourite kind of design work? What do you enjoy most about it?

I equally enjoy producing illustration and design projects, I especially mixing design with illustration, that’s why most of my illustrations are based on typography. I also love producing branding projects in which I’m involved in the whole creation process of the brand and not just on a part of it like I do when I create illustrations.

João’s use of colour and shape is fascinating, and projects such as the ‘Dominate’ t-shirts for Nike do a fantastic job of illustrating something intangible. The bold and fearless typography and intensity of colour conveys movement, energy, and every person’s innate desire to be the best.

What are your favourite aspects of running OnRepeat? Have you got any tips you’d offer a budding graphic designer who wants to start their own studio?

The best part of running your own studio is the freedom related to it, I can’t say it’s a full edge studio since I’m the only member of it but it gives me the chance to work on my own terms and select the kind of clients I work with. Personally I think the biggest challenge about starting your own studio is to have a steady influx of clients and income, it will take a lot of time to get your first big client and to make a living out of your work so don’t give up and take your time developing your portfolio, make sure you only show your best projects and only showcase the kind of projects you want to produce in the future. I would say the best tip is to be known for something specific instead of being a jack of all trades, as an example, I’ve been known for my typography and neon imagery, that’s my trademark.

The arresting complexity of ‘Mirror House’, João’s illustration for the cover of Computer Arts Portugal, shows how effective these two elements can be when used with skill. The particular issue of Computer Arts was ‘The Power of Typography’, and João’s clever use of vivid colours and intense contrasts, all supporting the major element of the design, the text formation of Mirror House, firmly anchored the cover illustration into the core of that concept.

What made you feel that the original font, Port, needed a follow up? Of the two, which was your favourite design and which outcome are you happiest with?

They’re very different and their targets vary a bit, the original Port is funkier than Port Vintage, it has a lot of glamour but also has that fun side so I thought about developing it in another direction, giving it an even more luxurious appeal and making all the forms smoother, by saying that I can’t say I have a favourite design and which one I’m happiest with, both of them have a slightly different flavour and each one can be used on different situations.



Port is a triumph of a Didone typeface, elegant and confident with a smooth marrying of calligraphy and geometry. Perfect for use in large sizes, the font captures the essence of bold shape and smooth, crisp lines. It has a huge variety of OpenType features and there’s even a weight available of some pre-composed common words in several languages including English, German, and Portuguese.

Have you used Port Vintage in any projects?

Port Vintage has been used in some projects indeed, I know some editorial projects in which Port Vintage is currently being used but they’re still in development, most of them are on women magazines and some luxurious products. I’m really happy by seeing it being used on editorial projects, especially because most of them are related to the fashion and luxurious industry, a lot of known magazine publishers have bought Port Vintage licenses and even some big and well-known companies have done that as well so I couldn’t be happier!

The original font has been allowed to mature and grow into Port Vintage, and the follow-up is just additional proof that some things just get better with age, like a good wine or George Clooney. Softening the edges of Port, Vintage is an elegant, intricate, and downright enticing typeface. It also comes in a range of weights, each fully equipped with OpenType features, leaving you with the feeling that no stone was left unturned during the design of this typeface.

How do you think it would work best out in the world?

Like I said before my target when I developed Port Vintage was the editorial world, especially in areas such as fashion and luxurious ones but I love to be surprised, I’ve seen some great uses of it.

Have you ever seen it live in use (unexpectedly)? What was that experience like?

Yep, I’ve unexpectedly seen it on a cover of a known cinema magazine, seeing something in which I’ve worked hard for over a year being used on real editorial projects is such a great feeling, it gives you that comforting feeling that you made something right.

You’ve said in the past that Bodoni is your favourite typeface – is that still true? What other fonts do you love – and which do you hate?
Yes, it’s true indeed, it’s the typeface that made me start loving typography, my first typeface was made on college and it was a reinterpretation of Bodoni so that’s what started it all. I love a lot of fonts, can’t give specific names since there’s a lot of them but I also can’t say which ones I hate, can’t say I hate any font, each one has their uses, even Comic Sans!

Huge thanks to João for the time he’s taken to share these answers with us. You can find out more about him and his studio at their website, onrepeat.net. You can buy João’s fonts, including both Port and Port Vintage here at HypeForType, and you can read more interviews with some top type talents at the HypeForType blog.

Port Vintage is currently on exclusive offer at HypeForType! Pick up the entire family (10 fonts) and save yourself 50% in the process! Don’t miss out though as this limited time offer ends April 31st.