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Marta Cerdà Alimbau’s knows how to bring colorful letterforms to life


ver since she won the ADC Young Guns award back in 2008, Typographer extraordinaire Marta Cerdà Alimbau brought her vivid interpretation of letterforms to many projects and many cities. Her resume, decent if not impressive, proves that this woman values the richness of our world and brings it to life for numerous clients - Marta has worked for Coca-Cola, the Penguin publishing house and Ray-Ban to name a few. Based in Amsterdam for the time being this nomad of creativity is on a self-discovery path full of 3 dimensional letterforms that allow her visions to extend past their natural 2D state. Her love of both synthesis and ornamentation is evident as you explore her portfolio that is vivid like she is. Here we talk with her on what makes her the artist she is.

From Barcelona to Los Angeles. Which characteristic of these two cities are evident in your line of work?
LA is so sunny, so luminous, that allows you to see color at its brightest. I think that’s the most evident influence of LA, it let me see things with a brighter color palette on my day a day and I introduced that to my work. It is also a tough city, it definitely made me stronger.
About Barcelona, it is a deeper matter, since I was born and spent most of my life there. I think it has to do with the culture in there. My love for both synthesis and ornamentation it is a common threat of the catalan crafts, even with people’s character which is, at times, very contradictory: exuberant yet cerebral.
The fact that I just recently moved to Amsterdam, might add more influences soon again.

Can design manipulate our senses and reality? If so in which ways?
We are so under the spell that it is even difficult to realize how much influence Graphic Design has in our lives. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed, from the moment we’re born to the moment we die, we’re surrounded by bold and if we’re lucky, beautiful messages telling us what’s the “normal” mediocre average for everything, also for design. We are the voice of those messages and are, in a way, responsible for that. Graphic Design shape the way we perceive our reality, it is culture itself, even if it’s trash culture. For a lot of us, there’s also the urge to do something beyond expected and accepted, and we must fight for that.

Hand written versus digital. Pros and cons?
Digital is more predictable, it doesn’t have the warmth a hand has, and doesn’t admit error if you don’t deliberately introduce it. But it can give you much more control and may allow you to be faster. Now we have more and more hybrid tools in the market. I, for example, am using a wacom, and sometimes it feels like you’re using a pen on a paper. Though, even with the best of the digital tools, you can still skip error, and I think this is the main difference between them. The creation flow is much different when you don’t have to deal with the unexpected element in it.

If you were a font which one would you be and why?
I am expressive and passionate, my face never feels neutral at all. Even though I feel very latin in this way, I am still very meticulous, self disciplined and cerebral. I’m afraid this description matches very well with Mistral.

You blend illustration with typography in extensive ways. Are there any boundaries between those two?
We’re surrounded by a visual culture where a letter is not only a legible entity but also a suggestive image. When I work with typography, I am usually asked to add a certain expression to legibility. And, in my case, I think the expression element has to do more with illustration and legibility with typography itself.

Which is the most valuable advice you were ever being given?
When I worked at Vasava, Toni Sellés used to say something like The rush is gonna fade but the bad work is gonna stay. Overtighted timings are another issue we all have to deal with, I had to learn when to say no.

Freelancing or working for a company. Which one do you consider the best option in today’s state of the creative market?
The creative market is now tougher than a few years ago. So, if you’re really willing to freelance, it depends a bit on your own economical situation. I recently read Culture crash: The killing of the creative class, I’m afraid it is the best analysis I’ve ever read of today’s situation.