André Toet creates typefaces that can be used not only in print but also in multiple mediums, dimensions and scales. Designing for intricate jewelry design to large scale signage and public art, his work considers space, depth and viewer orientation.
Born in The Hague, and educated at the KABK under Gerrit Noordzij, and Central School of Art & Design London. He worked as a designer at Total Design under typographic masters Jurriaan Schrofer and Wim Crouwel) until he started (SO)Design with Marianne Vos.
Toet's display typefaces intend to give designers creative opportunity. And to encourage them to consider the potential of letterforms rather than the archetype.
It was an honor to connect with André via Twitter recently where we started chatting about his work. I asked André to answer a few Q's about his font catalog published and distributed by myfonts.com
Can you tell the TypographCommunity a little about what excites you most about Typography and Letterforms?
In Typography it all starts with a letter, then a word, a sentence and it may even end with a story. Obviously content is the main thing and so is readability. Typography must not overtake this! My Fonts are absolutely not suitable for big texts, they're mainly display typefaces.
Learning under Noordzij is quite a privilege. His teaching has had a significant influence on our understanding of the construction of letterforms. What is something you can share that you learned at KABK that resonates of informs your approach to type?
Gerrit Noordzij was not just very good at giving an understanding of how a letter works, but he put typography onto a higher level. In other words he didn't just focus on teaching you all the tricks but his vision was that typography bears a strong relationship with politics, arts, religion,
history and also the future.
Can you share a little about your production process? What tools or software do you use when designing a typeface? Do you have a tool you enjoy working with most?
I prefer to work in an 'Oldskool' way. Just pencil (my favourite HB FaberCastell) on calco-paper. In this way I draw the complete font + all the glyphs. Then handed it over to an assistant to be digitized.
I love the movement in the letterforms of your Typeface STRAW! As each line in the stroke stacks and rotates it creates flared terminals, apex, and vertex with a consistently pinched waist which is such an inventive way to distribute the weight! (It reminds me of playing pick-up-sticks as a child!) Can you share with us a little about the inspiration and development for this typeface?
STRAW ! That's a difficult question to answer. For me it's a very logical move I made, if you look at my earlier fonts. I guess I was taken by watching the endless wheat harvest, something I see a lot of when I'm in Italy.
I read that your optical illusionary typeface NATH was originally designed in 1974 as a student project (while at the Central School of Art and Design in London) and redesigned digitally in 2013. Can you describe the process of taking this typeface from analogue to digital.
Somehow I felt NATH wasn't finished yet and I kept the early prints (offset) for years in a portfolio. One day I happened to look at the alphabet with one of my assistants, he urged me to properly finish the font.
Often when designers revisit their work, they find areas they would like to rework or improve upon... was this the case with Nath? Did you develop and refine the original design when you digitised? Or is NATH honest to the original?
Absolutely spot on! NATH isn't at all honest to the original. Quite a few problems occurred when I initially tried to do this. I did keep the '70s shadow' original twirl in the typeface though and at the same time I tried to make it a better useable font.
Your playful approach to scale and grid is evident in your typeface BLOGGY. I find this a particularly interesting typeface because these kinds of cropped letters help teach us the importance of white space in defining a letter! And I noticed you play with positive and negative to differentiate treatment between letters and punctuation which creates a really lovely visual balance to typeset in the grid. Can you share with us how the design process enriched the design outcome for this face?
With BLOGGY the main idea was to design a font for a useful item. In this case a teatowel with a squarish design, based on an old-fashioned Dutch pump cloth. I made it into the so called 'Philosophers'Teatowel', with the names of famous philosophers written in my BLOGGY. The tea towel was produced in a limited edition by the TextileMuseum in Tilburg and today has its place in the design collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
ALPHATOOL takes a very clever approach to space, dimension, and form.
Congratulations on a remarkable face! On your site, I saw you have a cardboard prototype of the folded A... Was this mocking up of letters critical to the design process? Did you draw the 2-dimensional forms before folding and rendering the final letter shapes? Was this process analogue or did you use 3d software to help define the letters and describe the space?
The design of ALPHATOOL was initially designed in 2D for a series of posters for a dutch printer (Lenoirschuring). The idea of stools came after the font was finished. The cardboard mock-up just functioned as a model for manufacturing the type as stools.
I am really drawn to your typeface QUIPO - I love the in use example you show on the bottle packaging. Its curvaceous, fluid forms and irregular weight remind me of inkblots! On the Myfonts site you talk about influence from the 60s' and 70s' I would to hear more about its inspirations and development...
In the poster series mentioned above I designed a poster FREEFLOW all made up from hand drawn logos of 60s' and 70s' popgroups. At the same timeI I was looking for a 'fluid' typeface for the label for our own extra virgin olive oil 'Rosennanolio'. QUIPO was born!
Thank you so much, André, for taking the time to answer these questions for your feature! Before we sign off do you have any advice for people getting started with designing type?
I would say don't focus too much on type itself but try all kinds of applications.