Graphic and type designer Andrea Biggio is convinced that when working in typography (and graphics in general) you have to be as open-minded as humanly possible. It is this consistent approach that marks his signature language, not so much an aesthetic style but a versatile mentality. He tells us, “Every designer at some point chooses their own path but I believe that a good designer must be eclectic, flexible, able to adapt to the project and should become too fossilised on a well-defined and repetitive visual language.”
In turn, Andrea kicks off his projects with a lot of typographic research. But this research does not inform the look of the project in a visual sense. Instead, he distills a series of “problems” that arise from examining type work and its cycles, and attempts to tackle them. “I believe that a type designer is much closer to an engineer than to an artist,” he adds. With this in mind, let’s meet the Rome-based designer’s most recent project, a new typeface titled Tomato Grotesk. Released by The Designers Foundry, the modern grotesque family is now available in 18 styles and nine weights.
He started the project just over a year ago with just a few simple geometric shapes. Though it’s a lot easier said than done, this is in fact how Tomato Grotesk began, then, he adorned the letterforms with accentuated contrasts to give the alphabets “a strong display like personality”. The original idea, explains Andrea, “was to design a super family characterised by three different types of ink type.” However he had to give up this idea shortly after, as there wasn’t enough time to work on it. Then, he was hit by a new and unpredictable wave for inspiration. He was looking at a pizza box which had an image of tomatoes cut in half on the top. “So the inspiration comes mostly from that section and the tomato seeds,” Andrea reveals.
The thought process taught the designer that literally anything can inspire a bout of creativity. By approaching the project with a want to “grasp those little details” and unite them together in the form of a grotesque font. Once Andrea had established this, he sought to “give a soul” to the typeface by creating an identity around it, not to mention in the characterful glyphs. The result, is a non-traditional specimen (tomatoes included and all) which shines a light on the variety of the typeface which can be seen as both playful and sophisticated at the same time.
Tomato Grotesk is also the latest product of a lifetime of drawing letters. For Andrea, his introduction to the medium started similarly to many other type designers, through graffiti. “I have never been skilled in illustration,” he says, “so I immediately concentrated on drawing them starting with graffiti.” Over time, he remembers it became an obsession, a growing passion that increased in size until he found himself becoming critical about type. He would study the typography around him, from shop signage to billboards and any number of other typographic applications seen on the street, or on products crossing his day to day pathways.
“I think mine has been a slow process of evolution,” he says on creative journey thus far, “going through graphic design which is now culminating in typography.” A little over a year ago, he decided to put this passion into something more formal, enrolling in a Type Design course at CFP Bauer in Milan where he was lucky to study under tutors he greatly admires: Alessio D’Ellena, Beatrice D'Agostino and Marta Bernstein. It’s allowed him to be in contact with true experts in the discipline, learning a lot about the ins and outs of the craft, which he has now applied to his own practice. A practice only at the beginning of its journey and withTomato Grotesk now launched, he’s working on several new projects including a new venture, 365Typefaces, as well as many more new developments fast arriving on the horizon.
GalleryAndrea Biggio: Tomato Grotesk released by The Designers Foundry (Copyright © Andrea Biggio, 2020)
Andrea Biggio: Tomato Grotesk released by The Designers Foundry (Copyright © Andrea Biggio, 2020)
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.