Can you tell us more about how you, your educational background, your professional resume?
I am 50, born in Bordeaux, France. I first studied electronics,
and to be more precise, telephony, before realizing that what I liked
most was design and photography. My grand father was a photographer,
as well as an engraver. I suppose his influence is to be found there.
So I went into photography for a living, for a while, at the same time
I was drawing for my own pleasure.
What are you looking for when you create a new typeface ? Where does your inspiration come from ?
Depends on the font, and the moment. I did a revival of BujardetFrères, for instance, early on (1992 or so), after discovering in my Great Uncles documents a nice poster I thought used interesting lettering. I worked a lot from the work of the Bauhaus, and am influenced by some other designers, for instance the architect Le Corbusier. Remove this here, and see what happens. remove this there, and see how it looks. At one point, the letterform will be reduce to the essential. Quite zen.
At the other end, I do like kitsch, and enjoy working
on pi fonts and dingbats. One of them is DinosoType. I got the
idea from my nephew, who was fascinated by these creatures. I slapped
up this font in a few weeks, and never imagined it would be downloaded
by the hundreds of thousands in a couple months. Halloween Match
or SilBooettes are just the same. I produced them very quickly,
for my own pleasure, and here, there no functionnality to worry about.
What is your favorite typeface ?
My favorite type is always the current project. I am
currently working on a typeface called GrandBes which will be
introduced on my sites this week, if all goes well. It has a lot of
readability, and a very nice typographic grey, but a touch of calligraphy
in it, and someflavor of Art Nouveau in the floral curves
over the M, W, A, and a few others. I have great hopes for it.
You propose your fonts for non-latin language. Have you found a market with the countries in which these alphabets are used ?
No, I do not address local markets. Clearly, fonts, and
web sites, are a cultural product, and as such, they are directly related
to precise cultural markets. As a Franco-American, I naturally address
English and French-speaking customers. The non-latin fonts have been
created for my regular customers, who wanted to have them with the friendliness
of the US of French system and keyboard.
What is Match Software ? A foundry which edits other type designer or you personal company to sell directly your products ?
when me and my partner created Match Software, we thought about publishing
other designers. Then my partner died, I met a few designers, and realized
my job was not to be a salesman. And even less to manage the burden
of publishing. I am primarily a designer. Let other people do the selling.
As a craftsman, I sell from my own shop. My latest site, fontmenu.com,
is even more oriented towards a direct relationship between users and
Your name is also known because some you propose some of your typefaces in shareware. Is it a commercial strategy ?
Yes, indeed, it is a commercial strategy. I am not a lucky personal friend of one of these legendary and secretive venture capitalists who created Apple, Microsoft and Borland. Where could I find the millions of dollars necessary to enter the shelves market ? I started in shareware when the Internet was not yet known. My very first products where distributed on Compuserve, and in France, on CalvaCom, as shareware. An let me not forget the network of BBSes; without them, there would no Usenet today.
Shareware is a very sensible way to get a product to
market, when one does not have the financial power to advertise. In
effect, getting samples to the proper customers is a technique used
by many other non-internet companies. Think about it : what is the difference
between a shareware font, and the sample shampoo I get for free at the
gymn ? Both are tryout samples. Both will help me decide if I like the
product enough to buy it. Difference is, it costs a fortune to the shampo
maker, because he has to use plastic, and some chemicals.
I have two kinds of customers : individuals, a lot of
them coming to download shareware, or to browse, and decide to buy on
impulse. This is a bit like the shop of a painter : casual circulation
creates sales. Companies, sometimes very big (Ikea for instance), come
to me for specific needs that bigger foundries could not, or would not,
address. I then work for them the same way a tailor would do a custom
fit. Prices are not the same, nor are the difficulties involved. One
of the most challenging work I ever had to do was that software publisher
who had designed a product on Mac, and wanted text to flow exactly alike
on PC screens. Between different pixel shapes, different resolution,
and kerning support, I had quite an intersting learning experience.