An interview with 2019 Gerard Unger Scholarship winner Florian Fecher
The winner of the first Gerard Unger Scholarship, awarded by TypeTogether font foundry to talented young type designers, is German graphic and type designer and 2019 ESAD Amiens Type Programme graduate Florian Fecher.
Photos from the graduation exhibition setup. Posters design credits: Florian Fecher, Fátima Lázaro, Leonie Rapp and Pierre-Henri Terrade.
Hello Florian, do you still remember your first encounter with type? How did you become a type lover?
I have had a long-lasting fascination for what can be subsumed under the marvellous German noun ‘schrift’. Though missing from English vocabulary, it functions amongst others as an umbrella term to refer to composed characters implemented by writing, calligraphy, lettering, and typography.
An advance notice was probably my interest in handwriting and graffiti that developed during childhood. The initial spark of my love of type happened later while watching Gary Hustwit’s Helvetica documentary. That passion in hate, love, and the emotions in between, was contagious. I had watched it prior to commencing my communication design studies at the FH Würzburg in Germany. Type was something I wanted to learn about as much as possible: taking typography courses, typeface design introduction, summer school, interning at FontShop International, and Slanted blog and magazine. A lot of reading helped me acquire knowledge off-curriculum, as well as working at the library, attending conferences, and engaging on Twitter.
Since you were carefully following the news from the font world, you must have been quite familiar with the work of TypeTogether, right?
Yes, educational discounts like those of TypeTogether were a good way to start building a font collection with proper licensing early on. I have been using typefaces released by TypeTogether for years now, such as the first family bundle I purchased as a student. It was by chance Capitolium 2, designed by Gerard Unger. The body copy accompanying my bachelor project — two display typefaces based upon enamel street signs from Würzburg — was set in Abril Text.
So the submission of your typeface with Redaktion (working title) to the Gerard Unger Scholarship seems to be a logical next step…
There is indeed a close connection between the scholarship submission and my postgraduate studies. Two former ESAD alumni had been chosen for TypeTogether’s Incentive Programme before it was reformulated as the Gerard Unger Scholarship. That was one of the reasons I took this course into consideration and finally decided to apply to ESAD Amiens.
How do you expect Redaktion to improve thanks to the scholarship?
With a scholarship named after Gerard Unger, expectations arise that I will aspire to live up to. The funding will of course allow me to concentrate on this work for some time, and I plan on embracing the entire process as positive pressure.
There are many aspects in which the design will improve due to TypeTogether’s feedback. For instance, the part of the family optimised for body copy was the initial starting point, but it now feels too disconnected. I want to harmonise Redaktion Text with the more interesting Display while keeping distinctive character traits that enhance readability.
TypeTogether has always maintained a very cooperative environment. How do you feel about authorship and cooperation in favour of a better result?
I developed ideas, have drawn bézier curves, and originated the design. That is my authorship. But my typeface has roots in other people’s work as well. Grotesk typefaces by the German foundry Schelter & Giesecke were a major source of inspiration, for example. The initial concept evolved through feedback from teachers, externals, and fellow students. Some contributions were already quite substantial, especially regarding design space and solving interpolation issues. I am taking all the professional help offered to finish the family, and working within TypeTogether’s foundry structure toward a release feels like an obvious continuation of this process.
When we go further in the life of a typeface, once the final product leaves the hands of type designers and font engineers, where should it go? Who is your ideal Redaktion typeface user?
I am curious to see it employed in ways I didn’t anticipate, but the family has been developed in the context of magazine news publishing. Some European newspapers have recently started to release new print magazines, for reports and other long reads, in-depth analysis, thematic focus series, etc.
I’d love to see it being adopted by one of those, preferably a Display cut for a cheerful headline like “Brexit cancelled!”
Let’s agree on that!
Thank you, Florian, and welcome on board!.
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