Blaze Type’s main goal is "to design, produce and distribute beautiful typefaces which will age gracefully and provide incredible functionality over their years of use in what we think is the most fair way possible for each parties."
It seems as though so much of the exciting and experimental contemporary type design is of French origins. They are rethinking form, and innovating distribution.It is in this experimental vain Blaze Type recently successfully funded a fun and ambitious new project on Kickstarter "it's not a specimen, it's not a book, it's not a comic but it's all three of those at the same time." the foundry is going from strength to strength. I caught up with founder Matthieu Salvaggio to talk more about the specimen project, the foundries approach to licensing, their latest release and what other exciting new things the foundry has planned.
Hi Matthieu, First of all congratulations on the successful crowdfunding project. Where did the inspiration for a Comic-esque specimen book come from and how did the idea develop?
Hello! Well, I have always been intrigued by type specimens. These type manuals telling stories behind fonts design, showing their forms, process etc. I am curious on how to showcase these kind of things.
The idea behind our first specimen is to tell the story of Blaze Type and its inspiration through a narrative built on images more than fonts. We worked with bureau intercouleur on how to tell the story. I would tell them the inspiration, stories behind fonts, the design process, and they interpreted it through a story, a sort of poem running through the pages, images and illustrations designed by Brieuc (an illustrator they worked with on some pages). It took almost a year to complete the whole design as every picture designed was rather experimental: there are tons of medium used on them. The result is quite far from what you would call a “classic” type specimen, because the fonts are not the main element in the pages but rather a sort of “whisper”, but I think it gets the job done telling the story behind Blaze Type and bringing forward the inspirations behind the foundry.
What stage are you at with the production? And for people that may have missed the crowd funding opportunity where & how can people buy this book?
The specimen is about to be printed so we should be sending them rather soon! We are also in the process of developing a merchandising part of our website and we will distribute the specimen through it and some book stores in France.
What does your career journey look like to date and what lead you to start Blaze type in Novemebr 2017?
I wanted to have a platform where I would distribute the fonts I designed so I simply went ahead and developed it. I launched a kickstarter campaign in 2017 for the release of a font family and a newspaper-type specimen, it went quite well and I felt it was the time to build something on that. Samuel Gadea worked on the design and development of the website and we released it in November 2017. It’s been an incredible journey this then and I hope it will keep on being so.
Font licensing and pricing can be complex but I loved your idea about a font being a tool and your analogy of a person buying a hammer to simplify the licensing process for Blaze Type Customers. Can you tell us a little about this approach and how you are "adding another layer of beauty and uniqueness to a font design." by reimagining this licensing process?
Well, it’s quite the debate, I don’t think most type designers would agree with me when I say I consider fonts mainly as tools. But that’s how I feel. Yes, fonts can be literally piece of arts but I don’t think that this fact will prevent the fact that they are mainly items to be used by designers to serve a purpose, like a hammer.
I also always felt that the whole licensing approach (web, print, broadcast, apps, logos, etc.) was too complex for most designers and it still doesn’t feel right to me: would I have to pay a different price for a hammer I would use to nail one item or a thousand? Of course fonts are not quite the same thing as a hammer but I think you see my point here. Again, I wanted to offer a simple process for people, we still receive lots of emails of customers asking about web, apps or whathaveyou, kind of licensing and they always seem surprised when we answer that the price remains the same. We are not the only foundry on the market offering these kind of licensing and I think that’s a good thing. The beauty and uniqueness to a font design is added by the designers using them on their project, what are fonts if it is not used and loved by those who are capable of using them?
Speaking of Unique - Longtime readers of this blog will know I am a fan of reverse contrast letterforms - their disregard of convention makes these rebellious faces some of my favourites. Blazetype's latest release Zoo (designed by Quentin Coulombier) was inspired by the lettering on a French Jazz album. This reverse contrast available in multiple widths with variable letter spacing it is a triumph in the genre. How did the Zoo release (and your collaboration with designer by Quentin Coulombier) come about?
I discovered Quentin’s work on Zoo about two years ago. A friend of mine had told me about it thinking it was a great design and I was eager to see it. I felt in love with the bold aspect of the letters and I asked Quentin if he would pursue his work on it so we could publish it on Blaze Type. Quentin has been working on the typeface since then and we planned on it being the first typeface release of 2019. I think the public received this new addition to Blaze Type’s catalogue quite well, we have received a lot of very good feedbacks. I’m pretty sure we will see great designs based on Zoo in the years to come and I have to say I’m quite excited to discover what designers will be doing with it.
What is your favourite feature (or details) in Zoo?
The whole shape design is amazing, the bold forms and contrast give a great strength to anything written with the fonts. I particularly like using both the Condensed and Extended version between words and letters to add another layer of contrast. When used in smaller sizes, the legibility is harder to get but it’s quite interesting as it turns the letters in a sort of graphical pattern. I believe it’s a brilliant font, fun to use and play with.
As well as retail fonts you offer design for hire custom fonts, who is your ideal client?
We have worked on some small brands identity, in the fashion or jewellery sector, we are currently working for a client in phone service and are discussing with various design agencies on possible collaborations. To us an ideal client is someone we can easily discuss with and work together on creating something special. My personal dream would be to design a wide typeface family for the signage system used on roads or design a family for every street’s names in a country. I would love to have such a collaboration on a whole state level one day.
What is next for Blaze type?
So many things! Typeface families to be released, extension of the styles of some of our already released fonts, collaboration with designers on various design projects, etc. I want Blaze Type to become a platform of multi disciplinary works. Our main focus right now is secret, we will start communicating about it in a few months, and should be released in either September or October 2019 but I can tell you it will be awesome.
Finally as I mentioned I think there is something very exciting about the work coming out of France. How does where you live inform your work?
France is an amazing place for the type design scene. Several type designers are rewarded every year for the quality of their work. Living in France, in Lyon, must have an influence on the work we design but I am not so sure on how it applies specifically. We take our inspiration in so many different things and fields: fashion, sport, history, mythology, music, etc. What’s interesting is to be surrounded by great designers and being able to show your work and talk about it with them. In the end, we design things for designers so it’s important to keep a link with them.
I highly recommend you support this independent and innovative type foundry! View Zoo here You can subscribe to be notified when a new BlazeType font family is released and find Blazetypes Social media channels here Matthieu offers fixed pricing on BlazeType fonts - with an economy of scale discount (the more you get, the bigger the discount)! And also a very generous Education savings to staff and students.