Sometimes Always’ new identity for Fidèle features reservation, loyalty and gradients... lot of gradients
Balancing fun and sincerity, the studio has crafted a wonderful identity for Risograph studio and publisher Fidèle that conveys its loyalty and expertise.
- Harry Bennett
- 18 November 2020
Previously São-Paulo-based, the now Berlin-based Brazilian graphic designer Gabriel Finotti, founder of design studio Sometimes Always, is back at it again with another striking and studious identity – this time for Parisian Risograph studio and publisher, Fidèle. Meaning “faithful” in French, the Riso press has an incredibly varied range of colours, almost incomparable expertise and insurmountable attention to detail – a reputation that gave Gabriel and his co-designer on the project, Mateus Acioli, a lot to work with!
Being Sometimes Always’ first European client, Fidèle’s founder Vincent Longhi reached out to Gabriel earlier this year – with how he found them still unbeknown to Gabriel – following attempted work with three previous designers before reaching Sometimes Always. “There was some sort of pressure since the start,” Gabriel explains, “especially considering that Vincent himself is an illustrator and knows about graphic design much more than most of our regular clients.” Telling us how he felt somewhat of a hairdresser giving a new hair cut to another hairdresser, Gabriel was briefed to design a fresh identity that married the two arms of Fidèle; addressing them both as a “printer” and a “publisher”.
“We wanted a visual identity that evokes a feeling of trust and reliability,” Gabriel recalls, hoping to convey not just what Fidèle does but the high quality it executes it with. That being said, Gabriel also wanted to make a brand that was playful, explaining that it should be “fun enough so it shows Fidèle’s love of comics and the creative side of the business... after all, Riso is much more fun than any other automatic printing technique.”
Designing for both print and screen (with a website coded by Fluxo Design), Gabriel and Mateus managed to produce an identity that was excitedly reliable. With a base of Unica as the core typeface, providing a stable foundation for the identity to rest on, they thoroughly convey the loyalty and pride that they interpreted Fidèle to inhabit. “The fun and creative side of it was achieved by the shapes interacting with the logo and most of the compositions,” Gabriel explains, “they are kind of abstracts of classic comics shapes applied in a very arbitrary off-grid way,” suggesting they feel somewhat strange and intrusive.
A remarkable success, the intelligence of Gabriel and Mateus’ identity for Fidèle lies in its reservation. Knowing when to be edgy and when to be refined, the identity is full of character but reserved enough to not draw attention away from the work it’s producing. “We want the identity to be strong but never to take away the protagonism from the work of the artists we publish,” Gabriel tells us. “In the end, their name really makes sense,” he remarks, “since from what we got from the briefing is that they wanted to stay loyal (fidèle) to the Riso technique and colours, to the comics universe and to the artists they collaborate with.”
With a sense of loyalty distilled through their design decisions, Gabriel and Mateus stuck to the “Riso technique and its rich colours,” bringing in gradients to be applied across the printed ephemera in order to convey the volume and richness that Fidèle offers. “The person who is holding this business card or bookmark or colour mixing chart needs to feel really impressed and tempted to try something on Riso with Fidèle," Gabriel explains.
“For the loyalty to the artists they publish, we created a system for the cover, spine and back covers for the books they publish,” he recalls. This consists of a spine that is composed of a gradient constructed of all the specific colours used in that book and a back cover that acted somewhat as a colophon. “The back cover would have a sort of stamp with a letter mark, price, ISBN, etc,” he adds, “as well as an empty space for the artist of that book to reinterpret one of the identity’s shapes,” so that the logo can vary from book to book. The final demonstration of loyalty is that towards company values and what Fidèle stands for, manifesting in the identity’s colour. “We represented this by a special blue tone that they developed with Riso and they have the exclusivity of,” titled Fidèle Blue, he explains.
In what attracted him to the project, Gabriel says that “the fact that we knew that they would print pretty much everything we designed,” was a major contributing factor. Working in a world so increasingly digital, and especially in-doors as it is now, like many others, Gabriel has found it almost impossible to convince clients to produce any printed matter, even a business card. “There is barely any need for that any longer, people use their Instagram (or whatever) as a business card,” Gabriel tells us, with such a commitment to print that he instinctively produces stationery mockups in identity design projects without being asked.
“We always do standard stationery layouts in a hope that the client would maybe change their mind and print them,” he explains, thrilled in the knowledge that with Fidèle they were in for a treat. “We knew they were going to print everything, AND IN RISO!” Gabriel adds “we were like ‘thank the gods of ink.’” Aware of the environmental crisis and waste, he does caveat by explaining “we know all that, but sometimes it is just frustrating to work for months on an identity that will never leave the screen,” suggesting that with things as globally volatile as they are now, “to be able to actually hold, touch, feel and smell things is great.”
Not only leaving the project with a wonderful identity, but an open platform for collaboration, Gabriel is incredibly satisfied. “We face visual identities as a very organic thing,” he remarks, creating a brand that should remain strong enough for the years to come and flexible enough to adapt along the way. “We, people, change all the time so there is no reason to believe that a brand which is managed by people won’t change as well,” he concludes. “So we better embrace this constant change as part of the identity.”
With more publishing and identity work to come in the next few months, including Dolce Stil Criollo 4 and an identity for a new LA-based bookshop, Sometimes Alwsays is set to be very busy. We look forward, as always, to what the studio creates next.
Sometimes Always: Fidèle Bookmarks (Copyright © Fidèle, 2020)
About the Author
After graduating from Winchester School of Art, studying graphic arts, Harry worked as a graphic designer before joining It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in March 2020. He nows works as a freelance writer and designer, and is one half of Studio Ground Floor.