Ethan Nakache on his “spooky and Classy” Variable Typeface, Sprat
“During my teenage years, I was really into graffiti,” says Ethan Nakache, a French type designer. “I think that’s how everything started.” Having spent many childhood days drawing in a notebook at school, it felt inevitable that Ethan would end up pursuing something creative. After coming to this realisation, he decided to enrol on a fine arts degree course at La Sorbonne 1 in Paris, which opened many doors, including one that gave him the opportunity to experiment with calligraphy and lettering. “This was a time of discovery,” he explains, “and I became aware that type design was a profession.” Aware of the path that his career was about to take, Ethan decided to continue his studies in graphic and type design at La Cambre, Brussels. Since graduating last year, Ethan has kept busy working on type and editorial design, presenting most of his fonts in use on Instagram. With a process that always begins with inspiration pulled from old specimens and letterings – “sometimes it can be an idea or a few curves from an ad or a logo” – Ethan then turns to the design of glyphs. This initial phase is always analogue: “I first find an idea, a concept or something that pushes me to draw, and then I do my research with a pencil on paper,” he adds on the topic of his methods. “I think this is one of the most important steps for me on a type design project.” It’s also where he finds “unprecedented curves, shapes and forms”, that he can continue to build on. Since last January, the designer has been developing Sprat, a typeface project that started with old lettering from Eric Gill – an English sculpture and typographer – that he made for a bakery. He cites Eric as one who inspires his work greatly, alongside the likes of Claude Garamont, Roger Excoffon and Gerhard Schwekendiek. As for the more contemporary designers, Ethan is drawn to the work of Ohno Type, Coppers and Barasses, Extrabrut, Sharp Type, Grilli Type and Dinamo. “But I think the thing that inspires me the most is the discussion – just taking and showing a work in progress to my friends, some old teachers or mentors.” » Read More
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