We have a fabulous selection of international guests critics visiting us at TypeParis Summer23. We wanted to find out a little more about each of them, so have presented them with a series of questions which they have generously taken the time to answer. Discover Franziska Weitgruber's interview.
Biography Franziska Weitgruber is an independent Type and Graphic Designer based in South Tyrol (IT). She graduated from the Type and Media master course at the Royal Academy of Arts Den Haag (NL) in 2016. Besides her Design practice she is a lecturer in Type Design at New Design University (AT).
Her typefaces are published via futurefonts.xyz, Fontwerk and Blaze Type. Since 2020 Franziska is part of the Type Design/research duo Fantasia Type with Michele Galluzzo.
Do you prefer a permanent/dedicated workspace, separate from home or at home or do you like to keep mobile?
Franziska Weitgruber I have experienced many different workplace situations and have come to a conclusion that works well for me personally. Just as it seems best for our bodies not to stay in the same sitting or standing position all day, I like to change my work environment from time to time. I think it’s important to have a set space, preferably a dedicated room that’s just for work and nothing else. A height-adjustable desk is the best ergonomic solution for me, especially for design and type design work. However, depending on the task, I also like to go to a collaborative studio or outside sometimes. I travel quite a bit due to my teaching and workshop activity, so thanks in part to that, I have enough variety in my surroundings and work environment. When I come back to my studio, it also feels very good. I think it’s the variety of stimuli that the different places and environments give me. When in my studio, the possibility to physically create something else in between screen work is crucial to me. It can be cooking, baking, taking care of plants, maybe ceramics in the future.
“When it comes to type design I mostly get information from good old books.”
– Franziska Weitgruber
Do you read the news? And as part of your speciality, what are the sources of information you consult?
Franziska Weitgruber I listen to Italian news podcasts quite frequently and an Austrian radio channel including the news. As I’m living close to the Italian border to Austria, I benefit from obtaining sources in both languages.
When it comes to type design, I mostly get information from good old books. I enjoy research through online archives though.
What do you do to evade yourself from work? Do you practice any sports?
Franziska Weitgruber It’s a bit of a cliché among type designers: I do road cycling. What’s been distracting me from everything else lately is scuba diving. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and it really is as awesome as I imagined. As I live closer to the mountains than to the sea, I enjoy exploring the rocky areas as well.
What drives you to create new typefaces?
Franziska Weitgruber There are different kinds of drives, it can be a simple desire to have a certain kind of typeface as a tool in visual communication and be able to decide on every small bit in the design. Sometimes it’s a very hard to describe fascination for certain shapes that need to be brought to live, there’s no way around it. It’s strangely emotional sometimes, I have a strong connection to certain letterforms – a phenomenon very hard to describe in words. Every type designer might have it? (This needs to me investigated.)
“Future Fonts has eased my panic of only publishing when something is perfectly finished, when is something finished anyways?”
– Franziska Weitgruber
Which advantages do you have by publishing your typefaces through Future Fonts? Would you recommend it to our future attendees and alumni?
Franziska Weitgruber Future Fonts is super. The team behind it and the community that grew from it is so inspiring and open, it just feels right and good to publish there. As a foundry you have full control over everything, from pricing to publishing rhythm. Being able to publish a preliminary version of a typeface gives you so many insights. User and designer connect at an early stage in the process of designing. Future Fonts has eased my panic of only publishing when something is perfectly finished, when is something finished anyways?
You founded Fantasia Type with Michel Galluzo in 2020. How does this duo work, who does what?
Franziska Weitgruber Fantasia Type is a playground project for Michele and I, we do projects we are fascinated about, in parallel with our individual design and didactic practice. We are both designers and instructors, Michele in addition is a design historian and researcher – I’m a type designer and more on the applied side of things.
The process is usually very fluid, especially when starting a project. Later in the process, we do split things into more dedicated tasks. Michele is very skilled in collecting references, understanding historical connections, formulating ideas, concepts, design directions which we discuss and try to bring forward. I’m trying to filter our sketches and transform and develop them further.
“I couldn’t stop drawing type after work and I understood what that meant. It was and is definitely the thing I enjoy doing the most.”
– Franziska Weitgruber
Do you remember when you decided to pursue your career in design? What made you choose this?
Franziska Weitgruber I didn’t really know Type Design was a profession until I studied Graphic Design. There was a strong focus on type design in my bachelor course – I was fascinated straight away. Friends would tell the very cheesy story that they had always known letterforms would become my profession, remembering me drawing the shadows of pointed pen style headlines in primary school with an absurd dedication.
I remember the moment I heard there was a Master in the field – I wanted to apply to Type and Media from that moment on. When I graduated from Graphic Design and started working in a studio for visual identity in Vienna, that’s when I recognised I had to apply for a master in Type Design immediately. I couldn’t stop drawing type after work and I understood what that meant. It was and is definitely the thing I enjoy doing the most.
When you started, who were the teachers, mentors or professionals who had the most impact on you?
Franziska Weitgruber The calligrapher and type designer Giovanni de Faccio is definitely the mentor that had the most impact not just on a professional but also on a personal level. In this teaching he was able to communicate what the essence of design and type design was. He connects visual shapes to sound, rhythm in letterforms to day and night, winter and summer.
“The process for me is not analogue first and then digital. I often return to form finding on paper throughout the project.”
– Franziska Weitgruber
During your creative process, do you sketch–draw on paper before moving on to the digital workflow?
Franziska Weitgruber It very much depends on the project. Analogue techniques like drawing, paper cutting, experiments with writing tools, stencils in many cases are essential. The tool you choose for sketching, for generating quick ideas and design directions influence the shapes you carry on digitally. The process for me is not analogue first and then digital. I often return to form finding on paper throughout the project.
I don't believe in sketching for the sake of having beautiful sketches as documentation, sketches have to teach me something and give me clearer ideas. There is no point in sketching for the sake of beauty. (In the end, of course, beauty lies in rough, immediate strokes on paper too.)
Thank you very much, Franziska!
– Interview by Gina Serret