The portfolio of French typographer Lucas Le Bihan is one that is stylised, contemporary, and steeped in research. His attention to detail on the minute elements of a project is a characteristic necessary for any typographer, noticing the kerning and leading that sounds like another language to most. Lucas originally studied a BA in Graphic Design at l’École Estienne, but has since completed an MA in Type Design and interned at NoSigner with Toshiyuki Nakaie in Japan – he’s also only 23. Lucas explains that in order to create such polished work, “I often work under strong constraints. It is a way, for me, to build new and radical aesthetics.”
These constraints have resulted in a selection of various outstanding projects including brand identities, posters and book design. One particular favourite is, The Writing of Programmes a book based on Lucas’ thesis on contemporary and type related engineering. Even if you have no interest in the complicated inner workings of typography this book is a thoughtful depiction that is very impressive, “The book looks like a simple engineer’s note book but all the technical terms are typeset in a very specific italic font. The goal was to emphasise the aesthetic of the engineer’s production.”
However, where Lucas’ work really starts to sing are the instances where he has designed his own typefaces. This includes, Optimal, originally the designers diploma project on the concept of optimisation. The final typeface outcome “is the result of research on the most optimal structures for each letter of the latin alphabet”. Another is Avara a project initiated by artist Raphaël Bastide while Lucas was working with him last year, “The concept was to design a humanistic font without any curves and on a very strict grid. It is an open source font. The specimen allows the user to edit the drawing and print his custom specimen.” This kind of consideration is what makes Lucas a fantastic designer, he takes intricate elements and makes them available and understandable to all. The swansong of his projects that encapsulates this characteristic is JF-15 a typeface drawn from the study of a Breton sailor’s portrait – yes, he turned a portrait into a typeface! Lucas explains, “I chose to combine angular serifs with bold and sharp curves to reflect his strong temperament. I also wanted to make a typeface with texture that would show the particularity of the sailor’s geographical environment. Indeed, the reverse path aims to create a special texture, something like Brittany’s specific swell. In the end, the result is a very particular italic serif which works quite well as a text font, although it’s texture is quite unique.”
Lucas’ portfolio is attractive and engaging on first glance, but it is remarkable once you scratch the surface.
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