Friedrich Poppl’s early studies were in calligraphy under, among others, Professor Herbert Post (Post-Antiqua and Post-Mediaevel) at the Offenbach Colleges of Applied Arts. Poppl continued his studies at the Wiesbaden College of Arts where he later lectured and eventually became Professor of Type and Typography.
Well known as a calligrapher, Poppl’s work was shown in various exhibitions and won several awards in the 1960s. Günter Gerhard Lange, Berthold's Artistic Director, happened to see a poster advertising the 1966 International May Festival in Wiesbaden. Impressed by the type but unfamiliar with its designer, Lange tracked down Poppl at Wiesbaden College. Lange said "In short, that was a man who knew what it was all about, not only a craftsman, but a man with calligraphic ambitions, an emotional, high-spirited man." Thus, Poppl was commissioned by Berthold to design type for its Exklusiv Collection and a close professional and personal relationship was born between Poppl and Lange.
Poppl’s typeface designs include Poppl College, Poppl Exquisit, Poppl Fraktur, Poppl-Pontifex, Laudatio, Laudatio Condensed and Poppl-Residenz. Though all are commercially successful, it was Poppl-Pontifex that broadened his reputation as a typeface designer. In 1982 Berthold awarded Poppl its Golden Grid Award in recognition of his success. That same year, he designed his last typeface, Nero. Poppl died later that year before seeing Nero commercially released.