Design & Creativity
February 14, 2024
3 minute read

Aaron Amar: Filipino Typography

Kristine Nogra and Mara Javier
Photos by
Tristan Flores
Illustrations by

We were able to wind down and find ourselves in a brief yet meaningful conversation with someone who appreciates the overlooked aspects of public transport. Specifically, the typeface used for jeepney signs—so much so that he created a font out of it. One might even consider the “jeepney type” as a cultural touchstone, being that it’s a veritably unique characteristic that is seen only in our country. The man who sought to amplify this unique characteristic of Filipino public transport is no more than a humble designer who found his finished product — Quiapo Free — an online sensation.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Aaron Amar. I’m a graphic designer, photographer, and a typography enthusiast based in Quezon City. I’ve primarily done original typefaces, and I’m also the creator of Quiapo Free, a jeepney signage-inspired brush typeface.

How would you describe your style?
Every time I create something, I follow these straightforward principles: I always keep it simple, accurate, and meaningful. My inspiration for this [Quiapo Free] particular project would be our city streets, our urban style; what makes us unique from other nations.

What inspired you to create Filipino transit-themed fonts?
Once upon a time, I was inspired by other countries that have their typefaces that they’re known for, like Switzerland for Helvetica. So I kept on observing the surroundings and noticed that most signages have a similar style of writing, and I was like, “I want to make a font out of that!”

What was the creative process behind making Quiapo Free?
I did some research and tried to observe the characteristics of the written letters from what I see every day in our transport vehicles. The strokes, the widths, the shapes, I kept playing with these elements inside my head. I stayed at it for such a long time—at some point, I almost indefinitely shelved Quiapo Free. It was 2014 when I first created the typeface, and then I left it up in the air until 2018. Only then did I try to finish and then publish it.

What is something you feel as though Filipino designers should know?Find your strength or style, put your heart on it, and love our own culture as we are raised by it.

Final question: what’s inspiring you at the moment?What inspires me at the moment is the thought that our community now has more drive and determination to be progressive by pushing themselves to be more creative with their work and showcase it or contribute to other Filipinos and the rest of the world.