When everything was thrown up in the air this year, and after a good few weeks away from the computer, graphic and type designer Eliott Grunewald found “a lot of time to and pleasure from working on my typefaces again,” he tells It’s Nice That. The results are clear and frequent over on the designer’s Instagram, where he’s released a flurry of new display fonts in the past few months.
Although each of Eliott’s creations take different approaches depending on what their purpose or stylistic attributes may be, in general, “a big part of the typefaces that I draw, is just deciding to make a font because I thought it would look nice,” the designer admits, refreshingly. An example of this is Marfield. A clunky but elegantly enveloping display font, it emerged from a want to create something “that would be close to the titles of a newspaper from the 70s, of course with a more contemporary touch because it’s made in 2020.” The result is a classic, “almost mainstream” font made for headlines, purposefully drawn in a geometric, systematic way.
Another example is Herbus, a typeface initiated during Eliott’s studies, and again from a love for something else. “I was, and I still am, fascinated by type designers and typography from the 70s,” the designer explains. “Herbus is basically a small tribute to Herb Lubalin.” An amalgamation of Lubalin’s work, the aim is “to represent a synthesis of several headline typefaces from ITC [the International Typeface Corporation, founded by Lubalin, Aaron Burns and Edward Rondthaler] that for me represent what was American typography from the 70s.” This fascination continues with Phlegm, “apparently Herb Lubalin’s favourite word,” another font to be released this month which will represent a certain style and way of drawing several typefaces which appeared during that period.”
Aside from his inspirations, when it comes to process, Eliott will always start with a couple of letters or a lettering, “and then I try to imagine if it could work as a typeface”. If the designer deems it doable, “and if I want to spend more time on it,” an extension will begin. At this stage his process is also entirely about shape, “as I design only (almost only) display typefaces for headlines, I’m quite free to try and draw many different shapes, quite far from the standards and restrictions of a text typeface.” In concentrating on display fonts rather than text fonts, Eliott explains that many would “say it’s not type design, it’s typography, or lettering design, or even illustration,” he says. “But for me, it’s still type design, just in a different form. Not better or worse, just different.”
It’s also a matter of comfort for Eliott, this specific area of type design suiting him, “mainly because of time,” he adds with a smile. While studying a type design master’s at ECAL, the designer found that creating typefaces quickly and spontaneously was what intrigued him the most about the medium. “Of course it’s relatively quick,” he continues, “because even if I say quick, it’s still a long process to design a typeface.” Eliott also adds that his decision to concentrate on displays is due to his immense appreciation of several other designers already completing amazing work when it comes to text fonts. “It’s just about realising that some people are better than you at a particular work,” the designer jokes.
This approach, one developed from a real love for typography – whether it’s ad-land heroes to contemporary designers in his field – is also influenced by the fact Eliott thinks of himself as a graphic designer, not solely a type designer. “For me, the best fonts and type design work that I see are done by graphic designers who have a type design practice.”
Nevertheless, despite finding his niche in the medium, completing his typefaces is still Eliott’s biggest hurdle to jump. “Sincerely, I have too many typefaces started, sometimes a few letters, sometimes 50 per cent done, and it’s very hard to get back to it. At least for me.” That said, with those completed Eliott currently dreams of seeing them utilised in “BIG sizes!”. The idea of seeing Marfield, for example, printed large across a truck or building, would be quite the sight to see, and give viewers a chance to witness these display fonts in all their thoughtful glory.
About the Author
Lucy joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in July 2016 after graduating from Chelsea College of Art. In October 2016 she became a staff writer on the editorial team and in January 2019 was made It’s Nice That’s deputy editor. Feel free to get in contact with Lucy about new and upcoming creative projects or editorial ideas for the site.