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Q&A Damien Collot

On 3 June 2023, the Now23 conference will take place in Paris. On that day, more than a dozen graphic lecturers, artistic directors and type designers are expected. Join to attend talks by international speakersaround graphic design, web design, motion design, publishing, visual identity, communication and type design. If not already done, register now to take advantage of the best rates.

It seemed interesting to us to make you discover the profiles of our guests. Discover Damien Collot‘s interview.

Biography Damien Collot Creative Type Director at Monotype. With two MAs in Graphic and Type Design (Esad Type 2011), Damien has devoted most of his education to exploring the science of reading, aesthetics and the history of visual arts. He has spent the last decade directing type projects and working with leading agencies such as Interbrand, FutureBrand, Leo Burnett, Jones Knowles Ritchie and Red Bee on some of the world’s most iconic brands and rebrands.

Interview

Describe your typical day?

Damien Collot In a nutshell: having fun and making friends. The core of my job is to promote typography from a general perspective, and our creative expertise at Monotype. Type is everywhere around us; in everything we do, everything we look at, type is there. I spend most of my days searching, observing and collecting examples of type usage. It can be work from agencies, ads in the street, subtitles in a movie, packaging in shops. I contact creatives across all industries to connect and share the good vibes about type. I also spend time each day reviewing work in progress from the Monotype Studio and from our external partners, and get involved in drawing concepts for new projects.

What is your favourite way to start a day?

Damien Collot I need a large mug of coffee to start my day. I scan my emails and messages looking for anything that relates to work in progress or new enquiries. I then usually check social media, the most useful platforms for I do being LinkedIn and Instagram. I also read the headlines of Stratégies, CB News, étapes and other similar French media.

“Type is everywhere around us; in everything we do, everything we look at, type is there.”
– Damien Collot

Do you listen music while working?

Damien Collot I listen to the radio while working, mainly BBC and France Inter. In general, I favor channels that broadcast debates, investigations, interviews, podcasts and so on. It stimulates my thoughts and keeps me sharp hearing what moves people in politics, culture, economy. Music tends to excite me too much, I want to get up from my chair, go outside, and eat and drink. Not helpful when you are focused on a productive day.

Do you read news?

Damien Collot I get general news from listening to radios, BBC, France Inter and from following News media on Twitter. It’s important to understand what moves industries I work with. For creative news, I follow type foundries on social media, but also a lot of graphic design and branding studios and agencies.

What do you do to evade yourself from work?

Damien Collot Most of my work is about controlling details, curves, straights, doing again and over again the same actions to reach perfection, and all of that on screen. Outside of work I like doing things that require hands and actual, physical tools. I like to make mistakes that require other kinds of actions than “command+Z”. So, a few years ago, I started making furniture from scratch. I like it when it’s not perfect and that there is nothing I can do apart from starting over from scratch: learning the hard way.

What is your ratio of self-initiated typefaces vs. typeface for clients?

Damien Collot Desinging typefaces for clients is by far what I enjoy doing the most. That takes up all my time. A custom font is an adventure that requires a close working relationship with a brand. You dive into their history, story, culture, future. Defining a voice through type is a marvelous experience. Are you rather one of those who draw or redraw type classics (what is the definition of a type classic?), or those who seek to totally invent new forms? In both cases, explain why. 


What do you think of this trend of free fonts?

Damien Collot From a user perspective, open-source fonts can make sense when you are a charity, or trying to typeset books in an underrepresented script that foundries can’t afford to develop. In that regard, Google provided significant help in funding the development of scripts and giving access to knowledge in as many languages as possible with the Noto project, in which Monotype has been a collaborator since its beginning. Outside of these scenarios, I am surprised to see designers making the choice to release their typefaces under an open-source license. Building an expertise in a field takes a lifetime of work, studies, research, failures, disappointments, struggles, stress… all of that for brief moments of success and reward. Of course, generating revenue is not a goal in itself for all creatives, or for all creations. Building something and seeing your work in the wild brings pleasure and reward.
Yet, whether you are a professional or a type enthusiast, the talents you acquired through time have value. And this brings us to one of the most asked and important questions: What is the value of type? A font is one of the most important assets for a business that carries a voice and helps establish a brand. We train designers to become highly creative experts. What about licensing, quoting, pricing and selling fonts? These are as important as designing type, and as difficult to figure out. The type industry could benefit from greater transparency around this question. But many type designers and foundries are opening and sharing more and more. Monotype for example is putting a lot of effort into meeting foundries, sharing insights on the type business, the value of type and providing advice and support.
Training and sharing best practices on all aspects of fonts from design to business, could give more stability and consistency to the industry and ensure we collectively articulate the benefits and value of type. That will help the industry grow in a positive direction where designers benefit from their efforts and give them the ability to freely pursue their work based on their own fundings.

“A custom font is an adventure that requires a close working relationship with a brand. You dive into their history, story, culture, future. Defining a voice through type is a marvelous experience.”
– Damien Collot

How do you see the present and future of the French type market?

Damien Collot While I was working and living abroad, I had many chances to meet type designers and foundries from Europe, Asia and North and South America. I always look towards France for examples of fresh, high-quality work. French type designers are bold in their creations, focused on seeking excellence. A huge number of new foundries have joined the type community over the past 3 to 5 years. I am impressed and excited of so much creative bubbling. Working at Monotype allows me to meet all these talents, and I intend to use this opportunity to contribute helping grow further the French type scene, by helping where I can. The market is getting stronger. Yet, there is a lot of education to be done in France on the user side to raise awareness of what good typography is, and why investing in type makes a difference. The market is blossoming and now is the time for French foundries to collaborate in promoting and explaining the value of type.

Who were the most impact on you?

Damien Collot When you started, who were the teachers, mentors or professionals who had the most impact on you? Hervé Aracil and then the team at EsadType from 13 years ago are at the foundation of my practice: Patrick Doan, Thomas Huot-Marchant, Sébastien Morlighem and Titus Nemeth. A few years later, Ron Carpenter at Dalton Maag helped me establish my practice.

Do you have words of wisdom for young practitioners?

Damien Collot So far what helped me is being consistent in what I do, and how I do it, as well as asking questions of my peers… lots of questions. The design industry can be intimidating, and achieving goals doesn’t take shape overnight. It is the result of continuous effort, planning and patience. My advice is: move forward step by step, adapt while remaining focused on your work and goals.

Who wouldn’t you want to miss at Now23?

Damien Collot Véronique Marrier. She has contributed so much to build awareness of design in France and promoting French design abroad. Véronique is a star.

Thank you very much, Damien!

– Interview by Yi Shen

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