Posted in Typeface, Visual Language

Colophon Foundry

Overview

I’ve always admired the work of Colophon Foundry so as soon as I became a contributor to typetoken® I got in touch with them so see if they would answer a few questions to give both me and the world an insight into their working lives. Below is a fascinating interview with Ant & Edd where we get to understand a bit of what drives them to create wonderful typefaces like Monosten (featured in the images above), Aperçu and the new Central Ave

 

Did you always want to design type and how did you get started?

When we first started The Entente in December 2008, we had a lot of ideas about a smaller side venture which would be more of a personal project for us both. From this we decided upon a small type foundry that would have unique editions of typefaces similar to that of a publishers. This side project allowed us to separate our tasks effectively with one of us being able to focus on type design, drawing typefaces for individual projects and releases, where the other could use these fonts for use. In April 2009, we launched Colophon Foundry with 3 typefaces.

How do you split your time between Colophon Foundry and your other interest The Entente?

Normally our practices sit hand in hand. So for some cultural clients, we produce typefaces specifically for books, exhibitions and identities. After these commissions are completed we sometimes develop them into a commercial typeface or extend them into a complete family. Therefore they are totally integrated to each other, and we rely on this process to allow us to dedicate large amounts of time on type design and foundry related projects.

What are Colophon working on right now?

We are currently working on our next type family — which will be released in August. Alongside it will be a more extensive publication showcasing the ideas and working process of the typeface.

In November we will open our first exhibition at Woodbridge & Rees, London (with accompanying catalogue and special exhibition typeface release).

We also have several typefaces designed by others which we will be releasing over the next year.

What is your greatest (type design) achievement to date and why?

We see Aperçu as our most complete project to date (June 2011), but I think this will change through the course of the year. It was our most thought out project with as much time in the thought process as the design.

Can you give us an overview of the process you take when creating a new typeface?

There is not a single process that we take to creating a typeface. But normally we begin by creating typefaces for commercial projects. Initially this will most likely only entail a basic character set or sometimes even just a few characters. We will go through multiple design changes and decisions decided by both ourselves and client responses. These test typefaces usually only last for a version or two, thus only exsisting in various pieces of print at varying times. This also allows an extensive review of the type as we are able to see it in use and how it reacts in a real world environment.

After this initial project, we will often rest the typefaces for a while, and then re-visit them a month or two later. If we still feel there is potential in the face, we will develop this further in additional weights, styles etc.

What is your favourite part of that process?

The initial excitement of creating a bespoke typeface for a commission or client is a good point in the process. But also when the project is finished and you are able to reflect upon it. The most difficult part of the process is taking the initial sketches and developing them into a full family — a lengthy process. A kind of battle to dedicate the time to completing it.

Do you find yourself drawing inspiration from any particular era, culture or movement?

I wouldn’t say we are particularly inspired by a singular era, culture or movement. As well we are not inspired by the same things. Its important for us not to have same interests and references, enabling us to enrich the work we do, rather than having a single view.

Whose work and faces do you most admire?

We admire peoples work for a variety of reasons. Not only from an aesthetic view either. The work of

Ant — Ed Ruscha’s work is of great interest to me. In particular his typographic paintings and artists books. Typeface wise, AG Schoolbook is a favourite.

Edd — I am a big fan of the photographic work of Bernd and Hiller Becher whose topographic photos of water towers and industrial buildings I find particularly interesting. As for typefaces, I would say that the work by Ed Benguiat (ITC Tiffany, New york times etc) as well as the highly elusive Haas Unica.

Where is the coolest place you’ve seen your work applied?

Our relationship with seeing our typefaces in the ‘real world’ is a strange one. Once the typeface has been released commercially it feels like an end point and therefore we try to disconnect ourselves, normally by moving onto the next project swiftly. As for projects that used our typefaces, we particularly enjoyed the use Aperçu throughout the De Wiels book, designed by MainStudio, which also was nominated as The Most Beautiful Dutch Books.

If you weren’t a type designer what would you be?

Ant — Architect / Edd — Chef

 

A big thanks to Ant & Edd for taking the time out to help put this together.

 

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