M. Hulot is a typeface that consists of different styles: a condensed (or rather narrow) regular, an extended regular and an extended bold version. The typeface was originally created for shop windows and point of sale communication. I found inspiration in a diverse collection of old packaging design and images of shop windows (thanks for the specimen book, Petra Dočekalová!). I was happy to find a lot of sources, but it was not easy to combine all these interesting elements into a consistent typeface.
The first letter shapes I drew were rather condensed. Even though this was not my initial intention, I decided to go with the flow and continued working on them as they were. The letters turned out to be working quite well on bigger sizes, but they could use some “stretching” to create a better texture for text size.
There was no time to fix this issue (we had to start experimenting with interpolation), so I decided to compensate the narrow character of my letters by creating a new wide, low contrast, regular version. By using interpolation in Glyphs, a new letter style was born: a perfect reading typeface.
Wait. Did I say perfect? Just kidding! There were a lot of issues to solve. I had a hard time trying to get consistency into my typeface and went back and forth between adding and deleting details in my letters. This was a difficult process: I was afraid of creating a “boring” typeface and kept going back to paper to draw “interesting” letters. This is where I lost a lot of valuable time: even though the individual characters were interesting, they were not working together as a typeface.
But by letting go of unnecessary details, consistency improved, and I was one step closer to creating a better reading typeface. I still had the fear of creating a “boring” or “characterless” typeface. I tried to remember what Martin Majoor and Julien Priez (and probably many other instructors) told us: the best way to learn how to design a typeface is by creating a boring one. As soon as you know how to create boring letters, you can do all the crazy stuff!
With only a few more days left, Jean François convinced me to create a bold, low contrast, wide version of my typeface. With this extra weight, I would have a display typeface that stood out more than my other versions. Even though I was afraid of the (extra) amount of work I would have to finish over the weekend, creating these letters went so much faster than the other weights. This was because I now (almost fully) understand the way typefaces are built.
Even though the individual weights in my typeface might look different at first sight, there are some specific characteristics you can recognize throughout the family: the rather “angular” shoulder of the “n”, the quirky serif on the “f”, “z”, “T” and many more. These characteristics inspired me for the name of my typeface: M. Hulot. Monsieur Hulot was a character created and played by Jacques Tati in the 1950’s and 60’s. Just like my typeface, this character is a bit stiff and quirky, but nevertheless not too serious.
The 6-week type design programme that you’ve been waiting for starts on 4 June and ends 12 July 2024.