07 May 2019
Nick Misani is a freelance designer based in New York specializing in illustrative lettering with a historical flair. Born in Milan, Nick is especially interested in the intersection between interior design, typography, and decorative arts, which he explores in his personal projects. The most recent of these, Fauxsaics, has been recognized internationally, appearing in publications—both online and in print—around the world.
Nick will be speaking at the first #tptalks session on Thursday 13 June 2019 at Le Tank. Registration will open on 30 May 2019!
We are fascinated by your tiled floors project Fauxsaics. What motivated you to start with this peculiar project? Have you ever thought about giving up the digital tools and make any of these mosaics real?
Nick Misani I’ve always been fascinated by the typographic mosaics in train stations, hotel entryways, and old European storefronts, but it wasn’t until after I started working for Louise Fili that I began to truly appreciate them. While working on her two latest sign books (Graphique de la Rue and Gràfica de les Rambles), I looked at and edited photos of gorgeous mosaics for several hours every day (sometimes recreating missing or obscured areas). Because of this a technique organically emerged over the years and applying it to a completely original piece felt incredibly natural.
I’m intimidated by how laborious, costly, and time-intensive mosaics are.
I’ve definitely been tempted to trade Photoshop and Illustrator for marble and grout. I’ve spent many nights going down various mosaic rabbit holes online: from DIY videos of people tiling their backsplash to art history articles exploring Roman technique and how it differs from Greek or modern methodologies. I love the physicality of the process and the permanence of the outcome; and I’m so familiar with the different obscure tiling patterns at this point that I’m dying to just jump in and do it for real. That said, I’m intimidated by how laborious, costly, and time-intensive mosaics are. My fauxsaics took about 20 hours of work each to create, but that’s nothing compared to real mosaics.
You’ve been living in New York for almost a decade, but you have finally moved back to Europe. Have you decided where to settle down yet? What do you believe you’ll miss about New York and what is there in Europe that is nowhere else?
New York City has been awesome to me; it’s where I discovered graphic design, went to school, and worked professionally (and also where I met my husband and adopted my dog). It’s an incredibly exciting and vibrant city with so much to do. There are definitely many things I’ll miss: the Art Deco details on the buildings in Midtown, walking along 5th avenue during the Holidays, the Union Square Farmers market to name just a few. In short, I could see myself easily living there the rest of my life, so I told myself it was time to leave and try something new.
Europe provides a layer of history that I missed in New York. Europeans, generally speaking, also have a different and (in my opinion) more positive relationship towards work and success. I also really love how culturally diverse Europe is and how a completely different country (with its own language, artistic traditions, customs, etc) is only a short flight or train ride away. We haven’t decided where we’ll settle yet, we’re still considering several cities (Paris among them), so I’m anxious to know the answer to this question as well.
Before working at Louise’s I was very driven and goal-oriented. She was the reason I fell in love with lettering.
How was the Nicholas before and after working with Louise Fili in New York?
It’s a really good question. Before working at Louise’s I was very driven and goal-oriented. She was the reason I fell in love with lettering and, even well before working for her, I studied everything she did so that I could one day hope to approach her level of skill, elegance, and subtlety. I had other jobs before finally joining her studio, but I could feel that my life was taking me in that direction and I was doing everything I could do be worthy of the opportunity when it presented itself.
After leaving her studio, I’ve started considering my career and life more holistically and exploring other things that interest me professionally (like illustration and pattern design). I’m less worried about achieving a particular goal and more about finding what interests me as an artist and designer and allowing it to lead me to unexpected places.
Do you remember when did you decide to conduct your career to the letter world? What made you choose that?
It was definitely discovering Louise Fili’s work, and afterwards learning about all the other people who were working with lettering at the time (Jordan Metcalf, Jessica Hische, Dana Tanamachi, Andrei Robu, John Passafiume to name a few) as well as the greats, like Herb Lubalin and Doyald Young. All these people were instrumental in my decision to pursue lettering and, through their work, helped me understand the aesthetic potential of letterforms.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me generally revolves around doing as much work as I can while still making sufficient time for all my other non-work interests (like foreign languages or vintage bicycle restoration). Now that I’m in Italy, there are also several coffee breaks throughout the day that must (happily) be squeezed in. Because of all this, I try to get an early start and, if possible, get my most challenging tasks done first.
Do you prefer a permanent/dedicated workspace, or do you like to keep mobile (i.e. cafes, outdoors etc)?
I love moving around. In fact, it’s very difficult for me to stay motivated while working at home—my dog and my refrigerator are too much of a distraction. I love packing up my laptop or iPad and working from cafés… there’s something about the smell of coffee, the soft music, and the chatter of people going in and out that gets me much more focused and productive.
Favourite kind of music to listen to while working? (or absolute silence)
It really depends on the kind of work. Music plays a big role in my creative process, so I often try to listen to music from the same time period as the lettering I’m creating (listening to Cole Porter while designing something Art Deco is something that always brings me joy). If that’s not possible, however, I’m always in the mood for classical music—which is what I dedicated my undergraduate studies to—and have recently been really into very early, 16th Century lute music.
I think it’s curiosity and a sense of play that are really the keys to having a fulfilling career in design.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone wanting to become a designer / type designer / art director?
If I could go back 5 years and give myself some advice, I’d tell myself to get off Instagram and spend more time experimenting, researching, and following my curiosity. Ultimately, I think it’s curiosity and a sense of play that are really the keys to having a fulfilling career in design. That said, I still have a habit of losing my keys, so I often try to remind myself of those things to this day.
Thank you very much, Nick!
Thank you! Looking forward to meeting you in Paris.
– Interview by Gina Serret.