Tobias Frere-Jones (born Tobias Edgar Mallory Jones, 1970) is an American type designer who works in New York City. He was formerly a partner with designer Jonathan Hoefler at Hoefler & Frere-Jones, a type foundry in lower Manhattan. Frere-Jones teaches typeface design at the Yale School of Art MFA program, with type designer Matthew Carter.
He is a son of Robin Carpenter Jones and his wife, the former Elizabeth Frere, and a brother of music critic Sasha Frere-Jones. He is a grandson of Alexander Stuart Frere-Reeves, the former chairman of the board of William Heinemann Ltd, the British publishing house, a great-grandson of the writer Edgar Wallace, who wrote the screenplay for the film King Kong, and a nephew of Vice Admiral Sir Richard Tobias Frere KCB.
After receiving a BFA in 1992 from Rhode Island School of Design, Frere-Jones joined Font Bureau, Inc. in Boston. Over seven years as a Senior Designer, he created a number of the typefaces that are Font Bureau's best known, among them Interstate and Poynter Oldstyle & Gothic. He joined the Yale School of Art faculty in 1996 as a Critic. In 1999, he left Font Bureau to return to New York, where he began work with Jonathan Hoefler. Since working together, the two have collaborated on projects for The Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Nike, Pentagram, GQ, Esquire magazine, The New Times, Business 2.0, and The New York Times Magazine.
He has designed over seven hundred typefaces for retail publication, custom clients, and experimental purposes. His clients have included The Boston Globe, The New York Times, the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, the Whitney Museum, The American Institute of Graphic Arts Journal, and Neville Brody. He has lectured at Rhode Island School of Design, Yale School of Art, Pratt Institute, Royal College of Art, and Universidad de las Americas. His work has been featured in HOW, ID, Page, Print, Eye, and Graphis Inc., and is included in the permanent collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In 2006, Frere-Jones received the prestigious Gerrit Noordzij Prize, an award given by The Royal Academy of Art (The Hague) to honor innovations in type design.
He married Dr. Christine Annabelle Bateup in 2006.
Frere-Jones vs. Hoefler
In January of 2014, Frere-Jones filed a $20 million lawsuit against Jonathan Hoefler. The lawsuit was filed after a disagreement over terms of the H&FJ ownership structure. Frere-Jones claims that Jonathan Hoefler originally offered a 50/50 partnership in forming the new company. When talks about completing this supposed proposal fell through in 2013, Frere-Jones left H&FJ. Court documents say that Tobias Frere-Jones technically sold Whitney, among others, to Hoefler Type Foundry for $10 when he co-founded H&FJ.