Favouring blow pens over Apple pens, type designer Felix Sandvoß is an advocate for the analogue approach

Basing his type on shapes found in nature and his vast vinyl collection, the Düsseldorf-based designer is always looking for inspiration outside of the online sphere.

Date
24 May 2022

With such rapid technological advancement over the past few decades the design world now predominantly exists online. It’s therefore increasingly rare to come across a designer who not only works with analogue, hands-on techniques, but one who also strongly advocates for them. Felix Sandvoß is one such designer. Seeing softwares like Photoshop and Illustrator as “limiting creativity”, he tries to work away from his screen as much as possible. “In this fast paced digital graphic world things are often based on work we find on Instagram or other socials,” the designer elaborates, “so I’m trying to counteract that, and build ideas based on shapes found in nature.”

It’s this approach and search for “forms that can’t be found anywhere else” that Felix sees as having helped him to constantly push typographic boundaries. Before starting any project Felix explores various “structures, textures, fragments, shadows, liquids and objects” before he lands on a combination that has the potential to result in a typeface. Then, he will spend hours sketching and trialling different visuals with a pencil, before he “knows the curves by heart”. This attention to detail is instantly apparent in Felix’s work. While there is such variation throughout each of his typefaces, what unifies all of them is the way in which each glyph artfully and seamlessly glides into the other, almost appearing like an aqueous substance.

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Felix Sandvoß: Unseen Artwork Contribution (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2021)

Recently, Felix has even been testing out more “classic” methods that move away from pencil on paper; like painting with oil and using crayons. However, the real stand out for us here at It’s Nice That is his “blown” typefaces. Inspired by a traditional South Korean technique, the brightly coloured, spikey typeface also reminds us of the blow pens we all loved as kids. But, I think it’s safe to say nothing we ever produced was quite on the artistic level of Felix’s well crafted work. Discussing why he loves the method so much, Felix explains there to be something compelling about the physical process: “blowing a word feels like saying it, but in a very intense way”.

Having studied for a degree in Retail Design at HSD Düsseldorf, after graduating Felix instead decided to pursue visual communication and type design. This “swapping of interest” Felix sees as rooted in a weekly type design worksop he spontaneously took in one of his last semesters. With the workshop being led by the skilled Johannes Breyer of Dinamo type agency, Felix appreciated the innovative approach: “It welcomed unseen shapes and allowed us to break the ankles of heavy, sturdy and classic typefaces,” Felix explains. Showing him the potential for a very experimental approach to typography, Felix found himself completely won over. “Step by step I found a totally new way of expressing feelings, tensions and working towards context related creation.”

Another key source of inspiration for the designer is his passion for collecting and playing vinyls. Having built his collection for the past seven or eight years, Felix has found himself particularly drawn to the typefaces of album covers from the 70s, 80s and 90s because of the analogue approach many of them applied. This influence is evident in a number of designs – his Montezuma type wouldn't go amiss on a 70s psych album, whilst the typeface Sex adopts punky aesthetics. And, not only being inspired by the visuals, Felix usually finds music to be a brilliant guiding light. “I often make notes of words and phrases of songs that feel relevant to me, and then process them while painting.” Currently, Felix is prepping for his first solo exhibition which will take place at Rauch Offspace from 6 August.

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Felix Sandvoß: Free Work 2022, Balanced by Difference, Blow Technique (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoß: Free Work 2022, Saving Time for Doing Nothing, Blow Technique (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoß: Free Work 2022, Friends are Special Vitamins, Blow Technique (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoß: Free Work 2022, Friends are Special Vitamins, Blow Technique (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoss: Inner Theft, IT, Label Identity and Custom Lettering for Cover; Cover IT001 Inner Thieves Compilation (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2021)

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Felix Sandvoß: Montezuma Custom Lettering (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoß: Deepho, Chiaro, Artist Identity and Custom Lettering for Cover (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2021)

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Felix Sandvoß: Sex Custom Lettering, Free Project for Merchandise; Photo T-Shirt (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2021)

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Felix Sandvoß: Caramelo 2022 Album Cover Custom Lettering (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoß: CTW Podcasts Custom Lettering; CTW Artwork (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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Felix Sandvoß: Salon des Amateurs, Poster and Custom Lettering (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2021)

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Felix Sandvoß: Free Work 2022, Times New Romance (Copyright © Felix Sandvoß, 2022)

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About the Author

Olivia Hingley

Olivia joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in illustration, photography, ceramic design and platforming creativity from the north of England.

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