02 Jul 2018
François Rappo is a graphic designer, who started type design in 1998. His portfolio includes projects for The New York Times Magazine, ICA Institute of Contemporary Art London, Apple, Basel Art Fair. François Rappo received the Jan-Tschichold award in 2013. He teaches type and graphic design at ECAL Ecole cantonale dart de Lausanne, and also has published writing on typography and type design. From 2001 till 2007 François was head of the jury of The Most Beautiful Swiss Books competition.
François will be speaking at the fourth #tptalks for 2018. To join us, please register here.
Do you ever feel yourself getting too comfortable (be it with a particular style, type of project, field, environment, medium)? If so, what steps have you taken to shake things up?
François Rappo: Yes I do, through years type design has become a routine. For a couple of months I’ve been getting curious about other graphic ‘disciplines’ that are pushed in the background today. Right now I’m collecting data about designer’s views, publications, discourses, on abstract visual languages. From Semper, Grasset to Kepes, to Munari. I feel we have the opportunity to throw a fresher view on the topic today.
Favourite animated feature film
SpongeBob SquarePants — a courageous vision of art and life.
What drives you to make new typefaces?
Any idea — I try to give a chance to the most miserable idea inspired by anything, put it on the paper, on the screen, let it grow, keep it at hand, have a look on it from time to time.
Type design is at first a private fun, next, if still exciting, open to a community of users.
What is your ratio of self-initiated typefaces vs. typeface commissions? Which do you tend to be more passionate about making?
95% of my fonts are self-initiated projects. Type design is at first a private fun, next, if still exciting, open to a community of users. In the same time, reader’s experience and expertise are the core of my projects.
Favourite television show / movie / book / magazine
‘Belle et Sébastien’ by Cécile Aubry.
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical (ideal) day/week schedule looks like: two days drawing / one day on the bike / two days drawing / one day… if possible all the year. Except that a couple of days ago I broke bike (expensive one), helmet, shoes, ribs and collarbone. I have more time for drawing since, but I’m slower for my emails.
What is your favourite way to start your day? What is the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk?
I like to start to work right out of bed, early, around 5am with a first cup of coffee. Eager to be surprised by what I did before. I only have fresh ideas in the morning. I’m working in parallel on many projects, from 10 to 20. I don’t like boring researches. It’s there or it’s not there. Then later in the day I develop initial sketches — a routine job I like to do myself.
Do you prefer a permanent/dedicated workspace, or do you like to keep mobile (i.e. cafes, outdoors etc)
Permanent hidden dark workplace, like Frank Kafka’s basement dream. Never take a computer outdoor, please.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone wanting to become a designer / type designer / art director?
Design is drawing. Drawing is first an extension of yourself, a hut, a garden, a playground or whatever. So, you have to find a way to dwell in your design.
– Interview by Dave Coleman.