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 Sandrine Nugue’s interview.
Biography Sandrine Nugue is an independent type & graphic designer based in France. She divides her time between her type design and graphic design practice and also lecturing and teaching workshops in France and abroad. She designs typefaces and lettering for signage, visual identity, publication commissions, etc. Some of her typefaces (Infini-2015, Orientation-2018, Orée-2019) received the Certificate of Excellence in Type Design of Type Directors Club of New York. In 2018, she was awarded a prize as young designer by the city of Paris.
Have your work habits changed notably after the lockdown and the later pandemic restrictions?
Sandrine Nugue I moved from Paris to the south of France, so one good point of the later pandemic is the possibility to work at distance, doing visio when it is possible and going back to Paris when it is necessary. I really enjoy this new balance.
Favourite kind of music to listen to while working? Are they different according to a certain type of activity?
Sandrine Nugue The sound ambiance really depends on the activity. It could be absolute silence when I need be concentrated for reading, writing, the beginning of a project... Then when it is more mechanical I usually listen to podcasts, most of the time about cultural or social subjects.
What do you do to evade yourself from work? Do you practice any sports?
Sandrine Nugue For the last few years, my daily sport is being a mother. It can be practiced during days or nights.
“I look for a specific answer for each project.”
– Sandrine Nugue
What drives you to create new typefaces?
Sandrine Nugue What drives me its to find a little breach and try to do a new approach even if it is a small one. I am looking for a surprise, something unexpected. And I look for a specific answer for each project.
Your work seems to be perceived as a constant search for original and unique forms. Could you explain to us what drives you in your daily research?
Sandrine Nugue It is my motivation to design, to find a new idea. It could be for a lettering or a typeface. With the stencil typefaces Orientation, it was very challenging to spread the formal principle of stencil and geometrical design to the complete glyphset. I really enjoyed questioning the signs we use to know and to recognize. For example, the lowercase ‘w’ had a too large width for bold so I couldn’t have the same design than regular. Thus, I was searching for a new way to design and recognize this letter. I like playing and dealing with constraints, trying to surprise.
“I like playing and dealing with constraints, trying to surprise.”
– Sandrine Nugue
What is your ratio of self-initiated typefaces vs. typeface for clients? Which do you tend to be more passionate about making?
Sandrine Nugue My ideal ratio would be 50-50: 50% of commands and 50% of self-initiated projects, and it is how I try to organize my schedule. After seven years of teaching in several schools, I have decided to stop it to focus more on self-initiated typefaces. Until now I released a single cut Injurial with 205TF and Orientation a stencil family with Commercial Type. Very soon I will release a new type family called Moulin and I am already thinking about the next one.
Do you remember when you decided to pursue your career in design? What made you choose that?
Sandrine Nugue I easily remind me how I decided to pursue my career in type design: it was a fascination about the infini system of writing and our ability to read. My interests were to play with all this system.
“After seven years of teaching in several schools, I have decided to stop it to focus more on self-initiated typefaces.”
– Sandrine Nugue
When you started, who were the teachers, mentors or professionals who had the most impact on you?
Sandrine Nugue During my studies in Strasbourg, Maxime Fittes who was studying at Estienne (Paris) suggested me books like ‘While you’re reading’ by Gerard Unger or ‘Detail in Typography’ by Jost Hochuli. At this moment, I knew for certain that I wanted to make type design.
Then at Ésad Amiens, Sébastien Morlighem spread his passionate discoveries and it still influences me today.
Two of my mentors are my friends and colleagues Alice Savoie & Roxane Gataud, we share a lot and it is precious.
During your creative process, do you sketch–draw on paper before moving on to the digital workflow?
Sandrine Nugue For every project I begin with sketches, it is my way to find the identity and the structure I will develop. And quickly I work on the computer, often because the schedule is hurry. Again for Orientation, because it was challenging to harmonize the typeface as a system, drawing on paper was a necessity, it helps me finding solutions.
“[...] Drawing on paper was a necessity, it helps me finding solutions.”
– Sandrine Nugue
Do you have words of wisdom for someone who wants to become a graphic designer, art director or type designer?
Sandrine Nugue Read a lot, observe a lot, draw a lot, explore a lot and make it yours.
Thank you very much, Sandrine!
– Interview by Gina Serret