13 Feb 2019
How was TypeParis for you?
Who better to talk about it than the alumni? So we asked them some questions. We published the results of our discussion with three TypeParis17 attendees, Teddy Derkert, Adriana Longoria and Raphaël Ronot to share their stories with you!
We are in the application period, and you are wondering what conditions must be met, beyond the official description proposed on the home page? You can see that the attendees final typefaces designed at the end of the five weeks, are of such a high level that it seems impossible to achieve in such a short period of time. Or that you already need a lot of skills before you can get to TypeParis. The participants come from a wide variety of backgrounds, with or without experience in typeface design, whatever your level, you will learn a lot.
TypeParis19 is the fifth edition of the type design program launched in 2015. Feel free to contact them directly via their People page, to ask about some specific details about their 5 weeks in Paris.
Why did you decide to apply to TypeParis?
Teddy Derkert: For a few years I had experimented with making typefaces and it was the year before TypeParis that I had started to really get into it. Learning mostly from articles online I was making some progress but still had reached a point that made me satisfied with my work. I eventually found TypeParis while looking around for different courses and programs for type design. Perfect, 5-weeks of pure Type Design! And Paris in the summer? Sign me up! Unfortunately it was too late to apply but I decided I had to try the coming year, which I did! Apart from TypeParis I had looked into Reading and TypeMedia (KABK) but that was a too big of a leap me.
Adriana Longoria: As a graphic designer, I wanted to improve my skills creating type-based logos. I didn’t feel confident enough in creating letters from scratch and I knew there were rules that I had to learn to do this well. I googled type design courses and came upon TypeParis website. The content sounded like exactly what I was looking for and I loved the idea of being in Paris for a few weeks. Because of the location, I didn’t even look for other options.
“As a graphic designer, I wanted to improve my skills creating type-based logos. I didn’t feel confident enough in creating letters from scratch and I knew there were rules that I had to learn to do this well.”
– Adriana Longoria
Raphaël Ronot: I always wanted to have a proper art/design education, but I never was really sure about it, I mean I never really considered myself an artist. So, shortly after I graduated from… a business school, I thought it was time for revenge!
The choice of type was pretty clear to me. To best understand graphic design, typography and all that follows, I had to understand type first. Also, it felt reassuring (for a non-graphic-designer like me) to know that type was constrained by a lot of rules, there seemed to be less space for mistakes — this assumption turned out very wrong, but that’s another story…
TypeParis felt like exactly like what I needed : a 5 weeks program (long enough for a deep dive, short enough to fit with my professional constraints) in the heart of Paris, with world class teachers and a no-less amazing group of guests and attendees. There was really no doubt.
Building the right portfolio?
TD: It took some time and planning to put together a portfolio because I was really determined present my work as well as I possible. I didn’t want wait another year. I felt pretty satisfied about my portfolio when I was done, but I had no idea how many applied so I was really nervous about not making the cut. I was so happy when I got accepted!
AL: I was a little intimidated when I was forming the portfolio because I didn’t have many typographic projects specifically, so I emailed the organizers and they confirmed that my portfolio was ok and they didn’t expect to see only type. They mentioned it would be useful to include sketches and logos as well.
“It took some time and planning to put together a portfolio because I was really determined present my work as well as I possible.”
– Teddy Derkert
RR: This was the most stressful thing I ever did. I decided to apply to TypeParis like one month before the deadline. But since I had no previous design education and very little experience, I had to build the portfolio from scratch AND half of its content in 1 month… All of this was very new to me ! So I tried to organize the few things I had done before (mostly logotypes and identities) into something at least understandable, I compensated the lack of content by a bit of writing. And then, I filled the voids with projects that I created alongside the portfolio. I made two (horrible) attempts at drawing an alphabet on illustrator, created a couple of additional logotypes… And tried to make the design of the portfolio as “professional” as possible. Still, when I sent the file I was confident I was going to be rejected. But I got in!
TD: If you love typography and letters you will love these 5 weeks! It’s intense, it’s fun and you will learn a ton!
AL: I really recommend this course for anyone who works with graphic design, illustration, lettering, etc. I think I have become a more well-rounded designer because of this and it has given my work more quality (or at least given me the confidence to be more experimental with my work). Don’t feel intimidated if you don’t know much about type design, all the students had different amounts of knowledge on the subject and everyone adapted well, you just have to be willing to learn and put in the hours during those weeks. If you want to see a lot of Paris, I would recommend arriving before the program starts because you will want to focus on your project during the course. Staying in the city afterwards could also be nice, but you might end up a little burnt out right after the program.
RR: Before applying: honestly I don’t know. As I said, I’m still surprised I got accepted. Just be true to yourself and show motivation I think. During the program: dedicate yourself to the job, don’t be shy, make mistakes, work hard, accept the criticism of others, don’t rush too-fast-too-early, focus, take pictures, trust your eyes, don’t be afraid to experiment, take a step back sometimes… and bring a bottle of water! Paris is hot during summer.
After the graduation: take a rest, party, and carefully collect all the drawings and notes you got from the program. They will remain a solid source of wisdom, and maybe one day you’ll see them as the beginning of your type-design life.
What did you learn?
TD: I really enjoyed the analog exercises with tracing paper. Surprisingly quickly we had a few solid letters drawn up.
AL: Learning about typeface design was hard because it was soo much new information! But I really enjoyed the whole process and how we learned through different stages and types of projects (calligraphy, lettering, tracing, digitizing, etc.) The atmosphere was great because people were friendly, helpful and hardworking, which I think kept everyone motivated. The course is intensive. I didn’t expect to work as much time as I did, so I would recommend arriving a week earlier to visit the city, since it’s harder during the week because we had homework as well. The teachers and the guest critics were very valuable because each taught us a different approach or point of view to type design. The whole experience was better than I expected. I learned so much and got to see really great places that I would never have seen as a tourist, like beautiful libraries in Paris and museums in Lyon.
“A thing I learnt is to exchange a lot. I thought type design was a solitary job. It turned out I was wrong.”
– Raphaël Ronot
RR: Plenty of things! From calligraphy, to more technical stuff on glyphs. You get a quite complete overview of what designing type is like “for real”. But I think what you learn during TypeParis is also a mindset. Type requires a level of attention to detail and focus that is absolutely mad. Everything has to be thought, drawn, tested, optimized, re-drawn, digitized and back again… for hours. This is really the big take-away for me : you learn to cultivate this meticulous state of mind.
Another thing I learnt is to exchange a lot. I thought type design was a solitary job. It turned out I was wrong. People at TypeParis (both teachers and attendees) are extremely different, more or less experienced, with a different culture, a different job, and a different point of view… That is something to take advantage of. The discussions and feedback rounds that happen inside and outside the classroom are invaluable, and not only do they improve the quality of your work, but they build lasting friendships and connexions.
What are you doing now?
TD: I’m working on a few type design projects at the moment, one that will hopefully to come out during this year. Still work full-time at my regular job but I try to fit in type design during my free time.
AL: After the course I continued freelancing as a graphic designer and today, a year and a half later, I own a small studio dedicated mostly to branding. I feel much more confident creating wordmarks and logos now that I can craft unique letters and portray a brand’s personality through them more accurately. I have even created a few fonts for some of the projects and kept on working on Domenico (my TypeParis project). In the future I would love to be able to focus more on type and polishing fonts. I would like to learn more about Glyphs and producing sellable fonts.
I still keep in touch with some people from our class. During some travels I have been able to meet up with some of them and catch up about current projects.
RR: During the day, I am working as lead brand designer for a french company called Leboncoin (the biggest platform for classified ads in France, a bit similar to Craigslist). And during the night, I’m drawing type! It’s been a year and a half since I graduated from TypeParis in 2017 and I have like 12 typefaces in progress, one of which is about to be released soon — yeehaa ! But more than that I am still very much a student. TypeParis was the beginning of something much bigger for me, and there hasn’t been a day since then where I haven’t learnt something about type design.
I also come to every TypeParis event I can come to. It’s one of my favorite time of the year: attending to the talks, meeting with the new students, looking at their work and… at their struggle (mouahaha). There’s an amazing sense of solidarity and community building around TypeParis.
My plans for the future are of course to keep drawing letters, to release new typefaces and hopefully to join a type foundry one day (or to launch my own), but that is still a loooong way to go.
Learn more about these three attendees:
Apply before the 14 March 2019!
Just follow the application process as explained on the program page. The deadline for applications this year is the 14 March 2019.