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Q&A Ruggero Magrì

We have a fabulous selection of international guests critics visiting us at TypeParis Summer24. 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 Ruggero Magrì’s interview.

Biography Ruggero Magrì is an independent Type designer and Lettering artist from Italy. He enjoys drawing outspoken letterforms while playing with strong and vibrant color palettes. Both analog and digital, any media attracts Ruggero and pushes him to research new expressive possibilities. During his career, he drew typefaces for several type foundries such as ABC Dinamo, Typotheque, DJR, Typofonderie and Newlyn and taught type design at Politecnico di Milano and IED Turin.

Interview

Tell us about your workspace?

Ruggero Magrì When I first started freelancing, I set up a room in my apartment as a studio and have been working mostly there ever since. Having my own space and set up helps me maintain my workflow and being productive. Nevertheless, sometimes I enjoy breaking out of the routine and work in cafes, especially when I am traveling: experiencing new places and getting to know the local vibe always inspires and motivates me.

Favourite kind of music to listen to while working?

Ruggero Magrì While working I listen to Jazz Hop very often. It gives me rhythm, relaxes me and puts me in a good mood.
I also enjoy being surprised by Spotify itself! A playlist that suggests new music based on my taste is a great thing, since I enjoy delving into and getting to know new artists and music in general.

What do you do to evade yourself from work? Do you practice any sports?

Ruggero Magrì I play basketball at a good level and I am passionate about cycling and the design industry around it. My dream project is to get my letters on a bike frame: whether it’d be a custom font, a logotype or a lettering piece. I am not picky!
Besides sports, I also enjoy activities that stimulate me intellectually. Lately I’ve been playing a lot of chess and poker, where in order to be a winning player, a lot of study, preparation and statistical calculation is necessary.

“I view both the analog and digital realms as instruments, each possessing unique strengths that I can leverage, rather than constraints within which I am confined.”
– Ruggero Magrì

During your creative process, do you sketch–draw on paper or start directly on digital?

Ruggero Magrì My creative process is never linear and really changes from one project to another. 
Analogue drawing allows me to explore multiple and more unique solutions, which sometimes turn up completely unexpected. On the other hand, thanks to digitisation I am able to refine a design by honing and reevaluating my initial choices, as well as to make much quicker and more drastic decisions on key parameters such as rhythm, proportions, and consistency of letterforms.
In general, I view both the analog and digital realms as instruments, each possessing unique strengths that I can leverage, rather than constraints within which I am confined.

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

Ruggero Magrì So far, my work has been focused mostly on designing typefaces for other foundries. As a consequence, the free time I have for developing personal projects is always more willingly spent on drawing lettering pieces, as a way of diversifying my daily routine. Lately I have been designing some type of my own again, and it feels great!
In general, I’ve always worked on interesting projects and for fantastic clients who placed their trust in me. When you are lucky enough to have both creative freedom and the possibility to take your own decisions, personal projects and client work become very similar in terms of passion and motivation.

Are you rather one of those who redraw type classics or invent new forms?

Ruggero Magrì I draw what I like and what inspires me, without paying too much attention whether it is a typeface that has been reproduced hundreds of times or something more unique.
In my opinion drawing revivals is extremely fascinating because it allows you to learn a lot by studying and revisiting the choices made by the original designer. At the same time, exploring new shapes lets you unleash your creativity, and most importantly it is a lot of fun!
One does not exclude the other; I believe the most interesting projects come from a combination of the two. 

Over the last few years you’ve been working with David Jonathan Ross on the revival of Forma, an Italian typeface from the Nebiolo foundry, to design a multiscript, variable typeface. How did you approach an ambitious challenge like this?

Ruggero Magrì Forma DJR is one of my favorite projects and my affinity for it stems from two particular reasons: It was my very first freelance project and it is a milestone within the type industry of my country.
Initially, I worked on a few missing styles in order to complete the family and make it variable. Afterwards, I expanded the design by drawing both Condensed and Mono styles. Managing to reproduce the taste and warmth that characterize Forma in so many different widths was the biggest challenge.
In order to do so, I spent quite some time on the research part, especially at the beginning – both on Novarese’s original drawings and on the overall taste and aesthetic of that historical period.

As an alumni TypeParis 2018 graduate, how do you feel about coming back this time as a guest critic?

Ruggero Magrì I literally can’t wait! Paris is where it all began – firstly as a student at TypeParis and later working at Typofonderie – and a part of my heart will always be there. I look forward to meeting the group and spending a day discussing their projects.

“Forma DJR is one of my favorite projects and my affinity for it stems from two particular reasons: It was my very first freelance project and it is a milestone within the type industry of my country.”
– Ruggero Magrì

Do you remember when you decided to pursue your career in design and typography?

Ruggero Magrì During my bachelor degree in Graphic design, I was very attracted to the visual power and expressiveness that logotypes and typography could bring to a brand. As a consequence, I started looking for ways to deepen my knowledge in the field and signed up for my first calligraphy course. It was love at first stroke!

Do you have words of wisdom for someone who wants to become type designer-typographer-letterer?

Ruggero Magrì First, study. Read about type and observe it a lot, whether by attending a course or doing it on your own. Understanding and being able to control important parameters such as weight distribution, contrast and balance between black and white is essential in achieving a good final result.
Second, have fun! And, above everything, follow your taste and instinct. Nowadays we are too influenced by social media and often we end up emulating even unconsciously what we see there, overshadowing what we are really passionate about.

Thank you very much, Ruggero!

– Interview by Lilian Hervet

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May 24, 2024
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