After Nadine Chahine’s moving speech at TypeParis and Neville Brody’s explanation of the designer’s commitment, an idea popped in my head: create something that can “change or help” the world a little bit. I decided to create a typeface for the Colibri Association founded by Pierre Rabhi. This movement is based on citizen action, which links personal and societal change. It encourages everybody to “do their part” to initiate ecological and societal transformation.
During these 5 intensive weeks learning type design I discovered a world of shapes, contrast, counters, curves, black and white. And of course interpolation, too! We went through calligraphy to type design using tracing paper (a lot) and searching for right proportions of each glyph, finding a way to express brush and broadnib pen movement with thick and thins, looking for the good serif.
Going fast all the time was a good exercise because it keeps you moving forward. First, you’re completely lost, then you find a way—then you’re lost again. You can’t stay at the same point losing your time asking questions with no goals: you need to draw more letters! All guest critics and instructors were helpful, trying to explain as best as they could the details of calligraphy, tracing paper technics, glyph tricks, type design and spacing letters (and there’s a lot to say…). That helped me to make choices about what I should keep or erase from the shape on my “n” and “p”. Creating a readable typeface on small size was my goal. But one day somebody told me: “You should try a Black-Display-Condensed” (actually the complete opposite of what I started to do). That was the beginning of the Black Sequoia Font that I now use for titling. I went for a body text font and finally I’m happy to have a font for text, a display Black font for titling and also two or three intermediate more weights (thanks to Rainer, glyph and interpolation)!
We can imagine a text as a tree. A paragraph as a tree trunk, and each word as a tree branch. Sekoia is a very well known tree in the world, strong and enormous. Sekoia font is a body text font based on my calligraphy style and inspired from Roman brush capitals in Pompeii. It’s a typeface with short ascenders and descenders to create aa powerful text color. The first goal was to facilitate readability at small sizes. The second goal was to do a titling version of that font. Finally (in the future), I will try to do a stencil version from the black weight.
I want to thank everybody (instructors, attendees, guests critics and organizers) for what they did everyday during this journey!
The 6-week type design programme that you’ve been waiting for starts on 6 June and ends 13 July 2023.
Our summer programme is in English and covers typeface design and calligraphy techniques, type history, and software practices. Every kind of design professional can learn about type design in a relatively short amount of time.