Typefaces collection

How did you get involved with typeface design? What led you to this practice?
I first studied graphic and editorial design at La Martinière Diderot in Lyon and at the École supérieure d’arts appliqués de Bourgogne in Nevers where I discovered the uses of typography. My focus shifted from narration and the book to become more centered on text and letterforms. I had the opportunity to pursue my studies at the Ésad school in Amiens as part of the Typographie & Langage post-graduate program where I discovered type design with great interest. Later I continued my research at the Atelier national de recherche typographique in Nancy in partnership with the linguistics research group ATILF, working on a thesis where I studied the editorial history of Walther von Wartburg’s Etymological French Dictionary. I went on to develop a type family along with formatting templates to ensure its correct display.

What influences you? Are there typeface designers whose work you appreciate in particular?
My influences vary greatly from one project to another as I try to take advantage of each new project to discover and exploit new sources.
I generally find it exciting when typographic forms are employed as a means of storytelling. I am very interested in the way that Fred Smeijers articulates the practice of historical techniques of producing letters (in particular stencils and punches) and how this informs his work in digital type design. I also follow the work of Kris Sowersby quite closely, and in particular the very ample historical documentation that accompanies the publication of his typefaces. Finally I find the graphic and typographic work of Coline Sunier and Charles Mazé to be very rich with its use of signs taken from a diverse range of graphic, epigraphical and geographical contexts.

In your opinion, what is the point of creating a new typeface when so many already exist?
Uses, contents, tools and technologies are constantly evolving. It seems completely natural and logical to me that type design follows a similar path. The typographic forms that are produced can in this way best respond to the needs and concerns of a particular epoch.

Is it really possible to create something new in the field of typeface design?
In type design, as in other artistic or technical fields, I think one rarely creates ex nihilo, and when this occurs it is often a completely wasted effort. The designs that came before us are there to provide points of reference and to guide us.
If one relies on this history to build typographic material that best suits the evolution of contexts of use, the creativity of authors and the endlessly renewed work of graphic designers, there are in fact a plethora of new things to be done in terms of type design.

How do you begin work on a new typeface? Do you have a particular process?
I don’t really have a specific creative process as I always adapt it to the nature of project that I am working on. With the exception of the Bartok family which is the result of research that I initiated, the different typefaces that I design are in response to specific commissions that define precise graphic contexts and that bring together particular visual and historical references. I begin my work by studying these spaces and references in order to highlight their particularities, often broadening perspectives through complementary historical research. My type design work thus proposes to focus on one source or group of sources that seems particularly interesting to me.
In this way I go from discovery to discovery and can envisage forms that would not have instinctively come to mind.

What is your relationship with the history of typography? What is your relationship with technology?
Historical typographic productions are very important in my work process as they provide points of reference and resources for my design work. I also consider the study of these historical sources from a technological angle as these forms are necessarily the result of a technique of production and fabrication. Understanding these typographic forms by combining history and technology allows me to better ascertain what is at stake in the forms that I am on the point of designing myself.

Why have you chosen to distribute your characters and typefaces with 205TF?
205TF publishes projects with strong identities. The structural patterns of families can break away from sometimes normative stylistic canons. From our very earliest discussions, 205TF immediately understood and supported the quite unusual principle of construction behind the Bartok family, which was essential to me. The scale of the foundry suits me perfectly as it provides a context where each typeface can be clearly identified. I am very happy that my work finds itself alongside that of colleagues and friends who I hold in high esteem.

Do you think that typography can save the world?
When used well typography is a material that can contribute to transmitting language with accuracy and sensitivity, thus contributing to a better understanding of a diversity of points of view.

Do you teach? If so, where, and why does this role of transmission seem important to you?
I have always taught typography and type design in parallel to my design practice, first at the Ensad in Nancy from 2014 to 2019 and then in the Ésad in Amiens since 2019. This practice is complementary to my often solitary design work. I also run workshops that are highly motivating moments of encounter where I often have the opportunity to collaborate with other designers or typographers.
I have wonderful memories of meetings and discussions with a number of my teachers during my studies. I remember moments where, having grasped a tool, understood an idea, or discovered a reference, I had the impression that my eyes were being opened and my point of view changed. I hope to contribute on my own level to developing an awareness of the world that surrounds us.

What type design project are you currently working on?
I am getting ready to finish – for free distribution – the files for the Walther type family that I created in the context of my thesis. These typefaces were designed to respond to the specific requirements of a French etymological dictionary, Walther von Wartburg’s Etymological French Dictionary. They possess phonetic character sets specifically used by the Romanist scientific community. The family’s different style variants respond to the hierarchical needs of the articles in the dictionary. But who knows, the free distribution of these files could open up a broader set of uses for the family!

by Sarah Kremer